Cities – same, but different

Do you live or work in a city? What do you see on your day to day trip to work?

Last night after work I walked from my client office towards St. Pauls with a colleague. As we were walking I remarked, “doesn’t London have some amazing architecture?”. My colleague; originally from Bulgaria, replied that he loved the area.

This is the view we had:

London is an unusual place. It is a city. And a lot of people live here. But it doesn’t have big wide streets. And it doesn’t have one architectural style. From street to street you see a huge variety of design.

I lived in Moscow for a year and I remember the 6 lane roads that run through the city.

Or walking around Pudong in Shanghai the sheer size and scale of the new towers are remarkable.

More and more I realise how much the layout and architecture of a city influence the feeling of day to day life.

One special thing about London is that you can walk around most of the famous sights in half a day. From baker street and regent park down to oxford street, along to Hyde Park, then back to piccadilly, down to Westminster, along the south bank to tower bridge and up through the city to shoreditch.

Compare that to Tokyo. To visit many of the sights you can use the Yamanote line. But just to go around the Yamanote line once would take an hour on the train.

One of the things I love about London is how easy it is to stroll around and enjoy the buildings. The mix of new and old. I think you have to be proud of our strict planning permission that’s kept the number of eyesores under relatively good control.

Nothing illustrates the beauty of old and new design coming together than the view of the city sitting to the north of tower bridge. And beautifully framed we can see my favourite of the modern buildings in London – 30st. Mary Axe aka ‘The Gherkin’ / ‘Swss Re’

And below two favourites together, just to the left we can see the exterior of Lloyds – the original concept of Lloyds was having all the ‘functional’ parts of the building visible. It’s got such an industrial ‘futuristic’ vibe.

What is the architecture like in your city? Would you change it if you could?

Missed Moments in London

Let’s go back to 4th April 2014 !

That’s the date I first went for a proper walk with my trusty beginner DSLR & 50mm lens.

It was Naka Meouro in Tokyo and it was Spring; or Sakura season(Cherry Blossom). I think I wrote about it before – it was the day I really found the joy of photography.

Today I was browsing through the 3200 photos I took in 2014. I think at the time I thought I was quite decent at it.

But now, looking back, most of the photos are awful.

It doesn’t matter though, the main reason I was taking photos was because I found it really enjoyable. It was a way to slow down and enjoy the detail of the world around me. Whilst also fulfilling my desire to be ‘do things’ and ‘create stuff’.

One thing that’s a bit new that I experienced today is looking back at a mass of photos and being connected to the person I was at the time.

It’s not remembering the moments themselves. It’s the thought process, motivations, energy etc. that I had at the time I was walking around taking those pictures.

I had such a great time in Japan in 2014. When I came back to London I was flying high. I was feeling so good, I was more confident, optimistic and creative about life than I am at the moment.

It’s not that things are bad now. It’s more like I am good now, but then I was super uber amazing.

When I looked back today I had a bit of an, “Oh yeah” moment – that’s where I got the extra energy and motivation, those were the things I was planning.

It’s great as an inspiration to make some refreshed plans for the near future.

I picked out some photos of Londoners that I think I missed on my first reviews back in 2014. Here we go:

Do you ever look back at objects from your past and find a positive inspiration for the future?

Brick Lane, Sunday – Cultural Contrasts

I had a plan to take some street portraits last weekend.

Plan vs. reality…    Friday late night – no camera, saw lot’s of cool people. Saturday – camera, got soaked in the rain. Sunday – camera, saw no cool people…

But I do have a couple of interesting images to share from Sunday.

The first is a hackney carriage mobile coffee shop. Isn’t it a perfectly cute package of a traditional London icon and modern city culture?

Sometimes I regret the dilution of traditional culture. I remember visiting London when I was really young. The vibe that Camden used to have. The greasy spoon cafe’s. The old vans and cars. The time when London really had its own style. Nowadays, huge swathes of London are ‘generic international city’ zones with international chains like Pret etc.

On my last trip to Tokyo I was so annoyed to see a Fernandez & Wells store open in Omotesando. A coffee / light food etc. chain from London. I desperately don’t want to see my favourite parts of my favourite cities diluted to the same look, feel, behaviour, culture.

Development and change is good, but we desperately need to support individual style, culture, small businesses etc. and stop proliferation of generic, bland chains everywhere. There is a place for these in demand businesses, but surely they don’t need to take over every corner of our cities.

Rant over…  🙂

As usual around East London I also saw some of the ever changing street art. I saw a load of people taking selfie’s in front of some art below one of the rail bridges near Shoreditch High Street.

I was thinking it’s another interesting contrast. Street art must be at least in part about making an individual statement, customising an otherwise regular wall into something unique.

Are selfie’s not the opposite?

Self portraits that by the nature of the phone camera / angle tend to look similar and are usually taken from a shallow perspective of showing off.

Are selfie’s so unartistic that maybe they become a valid candidate for contemporary art!

 

 

Chelsea, London

Time for another Sunday photowalk. This week I went to Chelsea in West London. Chelsea has the reputation of being a wealthy area. I was expecting rich ladies in 4×4 cars (known as Chelsea tractors), plastic surgery, Lamborghini’s with Qatar plates etc.

But, it was more like churches, cute houses, old buildings and classic cars.

We did see one guy in a large new Rolls Royce / Bentley and he actually asked us if we wanted a photo.. haha.. I was like, “eh, no”

Chiltern Street, London

Today I went for a walk around Chiltern Street in Marylebone. I think it’s quite a famous spot with it’s beautiful red brick town houses.

I also spotted a couple of nice cars.

I normally take candid street photos, but I’ve been wanting to work on my confidence to ask people if I can take their photo. I saw some friendly looking people outside of ‘Trunk’ store, it was a lovely scene, so I asked if I could photograph them. They kindly agreed.