Using a Ricoh GRD III and a Nikon DSLR to photograph streets, people, architecture and anything else that catches my eye.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

London Cafes, Bars and Shops. 2006 to 2008

Cities are great places for photography. They are full of everything! Architecture, open spaces, rivers, shops, bars, streets, markets, trains, buses, cars, museums, and of course people. There is food, music, art, fashion, cinema, culture and many different languages.  There are probably some real obvious things which I have left out as I am writing this quite quickly.  The city by day is a completely different place by night.  The weather can change the appearance of the streets too.  We all live near a city (or large town), and have all experienced city life. I know there are a few folk out there who have never ventured out of their countryside villages, but they are probably not reading this, and are probably sublimely happy where they are.

My city is London. Although I live outside London now, I am just a fifty minute train ride from the centre of London. I try to hop on the train with my cameras as often as I can, although not as much as I used to do.  London is an amazing city on many different levels.  I am waving my bias flag here when I say it is one of the greatest cities in the world.  Okay Okay....  I know, what about New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Beijing...?   Of course they are all great in different ways, and I enjoy reading other people's blogs from all those other wonderful places.  Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner.  

London has been on the map for around 2000 years, and has been built over itself many times.  Whenever new office developments are built, they let the archeologists in first to dig around in the mud. Old Roman walls, swords, money, jewellery is often discovered from those early times. If not Roman, then Saxon artifacts. The Normans have many great buildings still standing.  The famous Tower of London is 1000 years old. I know that there are quite a few cities which are much older than London, Rome for example, which I have photographed (see earlier post) is packed street to street with ancient history; but this is about London, a stately mixture of old and new.

Expanded greatly by the Elizabethans through to the Victorians, London eventually became one of the first mega-cities in the world. Now all those different histories has given London a rather random street map, full of main roads, side roads right down to tiny alleyways. There is no grid sytem here as in New York and many other modern cities,  no architecturally designed street pattern of circles and triangles as in the beautiful Paris; just a mish mash of roads with seemingly random directions.  This, in my opinion, is what gives the streets of London their buzz and excitement.  Round every corner is something new.  I have wandered the streets of central London for years, and still find myself delightfully lost.

In this post though, I am going to show a few images of the cafe and bar scene in some of the trendy parts of London, together with a few shops and other random images. These are all places I have either eaten in, drank in, bought records from, or generally visited.  I have often taken a photo of a cafe or resturaunt which I want to remember. I think it is interesting how one city has a completey different style and look of food culture to another city's. European cities all share a certain similarity, and I think London borrows ideas from the rest of the world.

All these images were taken with my old Olympus C8080 between 2006 and 2008. I was still learning photography, although I think that composition was my main focus in those days. I just wanted to 'record' what I saw, as opposed to take great photos. Many of my shots had terrible burned out areas, which I used to ignore. My interest in photography was steering toward 'people and places', as I started to wander around with a camera. I felt quite shy with photographing people directly, something which took a long time to overcome.

The next images are a few individual restaraunts and shops which I particularly liked. I went through a phase of photographing shops and cafes, as I think they make great subject matter with lots of nice colours and great names.  I like to keep the images as square on as possible, almost as if I was designing an advert for the establishment. The two record shops have now disappeared, due to the emergence of mp3 downloads. Selectadisc was one of the best shops in UK (and Europe) for finding rare vinyl and CDs, and I spent many hours and much money there.  It is a shame how things change, but that is another reason why photography is so important (in a documenting kind of way).

I shall post a few more images taken with my old Olympus C8080 in my next post, before moving onto my DSLR phase. I only owned the Olympus for three years before I killed it. More on that later,


Anonymous said...

London is a haven for street photography!
Enjoying your stories!
Mildreds and the two record store shops look great!
Nice one :)

Michael Gatton said...

Nice shots, Bill. I was looking back at a lot of old photos from my first point & shoot digital camera, all heavy on the contrast and saturation. Yours are much better.

Gerry's Blog said...

I enjoy reading your passages and looking at your images Bill they compliment each other, both done really well. Im looking forward to our September photo walk as is CC and Steve. I am sure you will be able to show us parts of London that I never knew was there.

Bill Wellham said...

cheers guys.

CC said...

Love your shots Bill. I recognize the first two shots -- two of my favorite places -- not sure on the rest! I'll see if I have complimentary images for the first two and will post if I do. Look forward to getting out about town with you, Gerry, and Steve. I'll try to convince Nicola to join us as well (see her blog from my links).