London

Art and Afternoon Walks

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No matter how busy my schedule, I always find the time to take a long walk around London, see an exhibition or two, perhaps visit the theatre, anything that can get me out and about, drinking in as much culture and inspiration as possible, and of course, my camera has to come along with me (but for theatre trips). I’m always trying to make sure that I avoid a creative rut, and before moving to London, I did feel like my whole life was in a rut, a routine, even if, by travelling, it wasn’t a typical one. One of the promises that I made myself when I made my move here, was to get back into the habit of regularly stepping out of my comfort zone.

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For me, street photography is definitely out of my comfort zone. Oh, I can’t and have been known to snap away as I make my way around an unfamiliar place – abroad. It’s a much easier thing to do when there are language barriers, and I’m so clearly not a local. But here, in London, where people can potentially confront me over what I’m doing, knowing that I’d probably not be a good enough actress to pull of pretending to be a tourist.. its a scary thought to an introvert like myself. However, I was determined, and as you can see… I didn’t come away empty handed.

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Kudos have to go to my old college professor (hi Steve), who had a habit of shooting candid street photography discreetly from waist/chest height. At the time, I thought he was crazy he is, of course, completely crazy, but I found it to be such a great way for me to break through that shell of shyness, the paranoid part of me that was too busy fretting about whether people would notice if I take a shot of them, whether they’d confront me, but equally, being too shy to approach people and ask for their photograph (after all, yesterday it took me five minutes to pluck up the courage to ask to the wonderfully dressed woman on Brick Lane, hurried only by noticing that she was about to leave, only to be told, frankly, to bugger off).

So that’s how I began, with a few tentative clicks of the shutter from waist-height, timed to match a noisy rush of traffic. No one noticed. I came to a quiet street, with no noise to cover Canon’s irritably loud shutter. Second photo, and again, no one batted an eye lid. And that was it, boom, fear obliterated. I spent the rest of the afternoon brazenly hopping about, camera pressed to my eye, photographing anyone and anything that caught my eye. It now seems like such a stupid thing to have begun my afternoon worrying about, as after all, I have been carrying around a camera for as long as I can remember, and if ever I leave the country, I have no qualms about photographing whatever takes my fancy, so why does that suddenly change in London?

Well, not anymore.

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Everything I love about London is here for all to see; the madness, the vast, eccentric mix of culture, the mass of public art and entertainment for us all to enjoy, the laughter and how easy it is for everyone to enjoy the city together, but equally the unspoken rules of London: no eye contact, do not speak with strangers, especially on the tube. Big no, no, which as a person who enjoys a good book when travelling by tube, is more than happy with this arrangement. There’s this energy about London and I feel like I’m absorbing it whenever I leave my home; I return each evening smiling, inspired, motivated to knuckle down and work, network, create. Not that I specifically need London for any of that, but to be in a city that amplifies my creative energies tenfold, is such a wonderful, incredible feeling.

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I walked about a dozen miles… from Islington to St Paul’s Cathedral, walking south to Tate Modern (I then stepped inside for a browse, as it’s been far too long since my last visit!), along Southbank, past Big Ben, through Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus, followed by what must have been 1000 miles walking around the mega Waterstones alone (I can never resist), back along Fleet Street, and back towards Angel, back home.

Yes, I guess you could say that my feet now hurt, as do my legs and shoulders. Of course, I could have been sensible, I could have taken the tube, or the bus, but then I would never have found half of these photographs if I had done that. The aches and pains are worth it… and tomorrow morning when it’s even worse, I’ll read this back and look back through these photographs and remind myself of that fact. No, that won’t be necessary. I’ll still be buzzing from my day.

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Trend of the Day: Turbans

Today as I walked down Brick Lane, ungracefully stuffing a freshly made, still-warm cream cheese bagel in my face, I found myself, as usual, admiring the wardrobes of the people around me, looking at what they were wearing, and how they were wearing it. After all, there are certain streets of London that are used as a public runway, and Brick Lane is definitely one of them – everyone consciously dresses for these public domain runways, myself included. There was one woman whose outfit struck me more than most.

She was wearing a turban.

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Behind the scenes. Prada SS 2007.

Remember when that trend first took off (in regards to 21st century trends, I mean), back in 2007, and then again in 2010? They first appeared on our runways, introduced to the trend pool with Prada’s spring show, followed quickly by Hermès (because of course, if there is a brand that are going to use turbans in their collection, it would be Hermès), and Jean Paul Gautier. Topshop swiftly brought Prada-esque turbans to their high street stores, while celebrity fashion icons such as Naomi Campbell and Mary-Kate Olsen were papped wearing them. Their reappearance in 2010 was a big part down to the Sex and the City sequel, and ever since, they have been a fairly frequent item to see on both catwalks and our local high street, reappearing every season since, paraded by everyone from Luisa Beccaria to Issa to Armani and Jason Wu. And it looks like they’ll be here to stay for a while.

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However, while I did give the look a try once, they’re a tricky thing to pull off… the amount of confidence that I think a person must have to wear a turban.. it’s a bold look, wrapping a scarf around your head, that’s for sure. My style of turban was a knotted scarf (a clumsy version of the Carrie), with my at-the-time Rapunzel hair pinned up, with lots of carefully plucked strands falling around the back of my neck and framing my face. While I remember walking around self-consciously, in my defense, this was while I was living in Derby – a city that will garner stares if you were anything more daring than a floral tea dress. I think I will have to wait for my hair to grow before I try that same knotted style again, here in fashion-friendly London. Visible hair with a turban is pretty much a must, after all.

The woman on Brick Lane, however, looked incredible. Sadly, she denied my asking to take a street style photograph, so I can’t share just how incredible she looked with you. It wasn’t simply a scarf wrapped around her head and dubbed a turban, nor was it the sleek, neatly knotted, optionally pre-tied turbans that line the high streets; the most common style of wearing it, a la Carrie Bradshaw. It was a big, messy, clumsily wrapped mass of cocoa coloured fabric, teamed with a coffee woolen wrap cardigan that skimmed her ankles, black boots, black jeans, black tank.. honestly, I’m starting to wish I hadn’t been polite enough to ask for her photograph, and instead gone for the old snap-and-run.

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Milly SS12. Issa SS11.

A few of my favourite turban looks of the moment:

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Priscila Diniz.

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Maja P.

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Samii Ryan.

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As for this lady, I hope I look as cool as her when I’m her age.

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Workaholic

KC and the Village

KC 1#

 

Derby is an interesting place. Yes, I have lived there for long enough now (if you’re counting it as my ‘official address’ since I took off across Europe), and I’m tired of this city in the same that that a wanderlusting nomad like me tires of every city, but there are a few spots which I never tire of.

One of them is Darley Abbey, a tiny village on the edge of Derby, though it is still very much within the city, like a little pocket of history buried right under our noses. Few people that I know have discovered this wonderful spot, or at least, not until I introduce them to it, and the moment I found it myself, I knew that I had to arrange a photo shoot there.

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Together, my model, KC and I pieced together a wardrobe that we felt simultaneously clashed with and matched the setting perfectly, being edgier than the quaint English village, while blending our textures, patterns and colour schemes to suit the chipped paint and bare brickwork, adding a few pops of colour here and there; primarily KC’s amazing hair colour.

I’ve come to really enjoy taking on the roll of stylist, or in this case, co-stylist, as well as photographer, though of course I’m more than happy to hand over the reins to someone more knowledgeable and experienced than myself. While I think its important to collaborate with as many creative souls as possible, it’s great to flex my own creative muscles with these personal shoots, to experiment and discover new talents, and learn new skills. While I’m not about to start referring to myself as a stylist as well as a photographer, it’s great to create my vision through other – or additional – means.

KC 3#

KC 4#

KC 5#

 

KC 6#

KC 7#

KC 8#

 

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