happy blogging

I was digging out an old photo from my VOX gallery earlier this week and was quite surprised to find out that my one-year anniversary of blogging on VOX came and went undetected (at least for me) beginning of this September. My goodness, has it been a year already?! I know I say this often enough, but where does the time run off to so quickly?

It's been a great year sharing my London here with you all. Thank you so much for watching and actively commenting on my photos and ramblings on them in this blog. I know I'm not the most active community-orientated person, and this is something I know I can improve on. ;) Your comments and blogs aren't going undetected though, I'm just a girl with a few words and I do much better in visual terms, showing more photos than speaking.

To mark the 12-months of photoblogging here I've decided to show my own personal favourites from the past year and maybe talk a little bit more about why I like them so much. I've decided to mention a bit about the circumstances they were taken as well. So, here is my Top Ten of my first year on VOX!

This is what I would consider my best photo of 2006 altogether. I remember seeing this couple meeting after work in Moorgate from afar and admiring how they got totally immersed in a world of their own, in a way only people in love can. I rushed over, positioned myself to their side and waited for some people to pass by to try and show how really into each other they were. It was easy to capture their emotion as they were completely oblivious to the world (and me) around them, in the middle of all the rushing home on a busy Friday afternoon.

I end up at Trafalgar Square a lot at times with my camera. It is very central in London, on my way home, and always full of sitting ducks for any street photographer alike. :D Saying all that, it's actually not the easiest places to photograph people in London. And at night time it hasn't been lit up very well, so it poses all kinds of challenges. On one of the times I ended up wandering around I spotted this cute girl messing about with her siblings and pulling faces at her parents. She was in a perfect spot, with Nelson's lions and Big Ben behind her, so all I had to do was lift the camera to my eye, snap and walk away. Even though I am a girl and can get away with a smile a lot of the times, I am extremely careful taking photos of children. Not only for caution, but also for respect. But how could I resist taking her photo, really! ;)

There are some stereotypes in the genre of street photography where people are almost "set up" with their environment. I'm a bit of a sucker for this juxtaposing of people, especially if it is with large advertising or posters, like in this photo. The first thing I noticed of this scene was the gorgeous low sunlight filtering through the trees across the street, but when people started wandering past the poster I smiled, and waited. It's unlike me to position myself like this to wait for the perfect moment/person, but I'm not adverse to it. I usually like to document and observe things around me in that instant, but think this photo turned out lovely in so many levels, so it was worth the waiting.

For me this is the funniest photo I took last year. It's also one of the luckiest. I was out with a friend, wandering in the more touristy parts of London when we spotted this couple taking the usual London memento photos. For some reason this gate had only this one guard and the wife initially only stood in front of the empty guard box. The husband had a little brain storm, told her to step in and that is what I was aiming to shoot, which is what I thought was quite funny contrast as well (a soldier on the left and this woman in the other box). But it was not meant to be, since this is what happened exactly at the moment I pressed the shutter down – the guard ordered the woman briskly out of the box and her face, I love it! Very funny and very split second. The scene was over before it started and I'm so glad I caught it in this photo.

Sometimes pictures really speak louder than words ever could. For me this is a perfect photo of British winter. There are no words I could really find more fittingly to describe the miserable concrete grey that hangs upon your head for four odd months in this country – this photo does it in an instant. On this particular day I was out not really pulling a Martin Parr-ish weather documentary, but out of protest just to photograph regardless of what nature threw my way. I don't think this lady waiting by London Bridge was out there voluntarily though, but I'm grateful she was standing in this spot for me to me capture something great that day.

This is probably another good example of what I was talking about earlier regards to setting people up with their environment. It also incorporates one of my weaknesses: good, yet quirky lighting. This is one of my favourite photos also for the reason that it's the one I got most hassle for in the past year. I don't often get approached when I photograph in public. It is an art form to do what I do discreetly, but this time the site manager noticed me taking photos, rushed over and gave me a right earful of it being against the law taking photos of this building site. I went for my default response: I smiled, acted foreign, apologised and walked away before he could ask me to delete any photos I'd already taken. What would have he said if he knew I wasn't really taking photos of the building they were building, but this very funny man just writing on this little form with his full safety gear on (as the sign clearly states though)! :D

Right, this naughty photo… I think like shooting children I really don't go after up-skirt shots of girls when I'm out (I suspect you knew that already :D). So, why is this photo in this list? I think it's a good example of another type of happy accident photos I sometimes manage to take. You see, sometimes I'm just standing somewhere in London, simply observing what is going on around me, and I might take a few photos to get a feel of the place and people, and sometimes not until I get home I notice that something peculiar has happened the moment I have taken this kind of a boring warm up photo. Like in this case. A bit naughty, but at the same time quite funny. ;)

  Ok, there are more of these setting people up with posters and such in my personal favourites than I realised! :D (Maybe I'm just a bit old skool in that way…) I like this photograph better than the other photo I took with these Rankin portraits by the Royal Festival Hall simply for the fact that I have managed to capture a connection with the subject and myself, as well as having the connection with the artificial gazes of the people in the posters nicely in this. I don't, as a rule of thumb, approach people to ask for their permission to take a photo. (It's actually legal to do this in UK in public places!) Sometimes people do notice I take a photo of them, but most times people think they are in the way of something far more interesting that I'm taking a picture of. Like in this case. Funny that!

Sometimes I just walk into the perfect situation and set up for a photo, like with this one. I love looking at photos by other people where a lot of things are happening, and where you have to think through what really is going on. For me this is one of those photos I love myself to see. I was simply crossing the street on Piccadilly when I saw these guys desperately trying to figure out a) how to get away with parking their lorry in the middle of the road and b) how the hell they were going to offload this huge thing out of the back of it and get it where they were supposed to. (A classic: How many men does it take to figure this one out- joke. ;)) The colours in this are really lovely for me, too. Especially how that red bus is balanced out with the red RA flag across the street. Lovely scene, just waiting for me to document – I wish it was always this easy really!

This photo is from my first time at the Notting Hill Carnival this August. I like it for the fact that my Holga and shooting on film had become more regular for me towards to the end of these 12 months. It's also damn difficult to take a photo at this carnival of someone not smiling! :D There was something human I caught in this photo in the middle of all the fun, colours and music, and I'm really happy about that.

Selecting ten photos wasn't as easy as thought it was going to be, so settling for these particular ten was a bit of a compromise between so many others I have loved, and am really proud of having taken this past year. I had to draw a line to only grant entry for photos I have taken up to the end of August, to be true to the 12 month time line as well. I really hope you've enjoyed these as much as I have! And if you disagree with any of my selections and think I've missed out on any special ones, please let me know! :D

Here's to the next 12 months VOX! ;)

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Today was the second day of the Mayors Thames Festival by the South Bank in London. It's quite funny, but I seem to only shoot at festivals at the moment, but it's really not my fault! It just seems that there is one every weekend in London! (For anyone who wants to get into street photography public events are great for people watching and taking photos at. You're surrounded with thousand of people with cameras anyways so you won't stick out!)

I went to the Thames Festival last year, too.
This time I stayed a bit longer, but it all came to me in a flash why I didn't stay that long last summer…

The place was packed! I really hate when things get this busy in London.

At least the air was filled with the scents of all kinds of delicious foods.

People seemed to be having a great time despite the crush.
These people were showing off their amazing jive skills by one of the live music stages.

There were all kinds of stalls selling the usual stuff, but some were very… interesting.
This is from the life mask stall near the OXO Tower. I wasn't the only one who couldn't quite believe what they were selling! :D

If you didn't want to suffocate under liquid latex you could enjoy things more pleasurable, like a massage from a group of very attractive women. They took their work very seriously, and concentrated very very hard. :D

And if you were lucky and not lifted and carried along the South Bank by the crush of people, you might have caught some of the live acts entertaining people like these acrobats. I think they were from Czech Republic.

There were also lovely pockets to the festival along the way. One of my favourites were the huge pile of flowers made out of plastic bags to raise awareness of recycling in one of the parks by the South Bank. The mound of plastic bag flowers was decorated with these cute map of London butterflies.

Under the dome of flowers was a small crawl space very popular with kids. They scared the living daylights our of me when they peeked out for the first time from underneath though. I wasn't expecting it at all. :D

The kids had lots of things to do and try out actually this year. I don't know if this was the case last year as I didn't stay that long, but it seemed the organisers really thought about what to do and made a great effort this year to take care of people of all ages.

Even the men were entertained… ;)
This is one of my favourite photos from the day. The light hitting these men literally stopped me in my tracks. Doesn't the guy on the right look like some awesome character from a vintage 50's Italian movie?!

And this scene made me laugh.
The little girl was throwing a right old strop about not being in the photo.
So I think this shot is very appropriately named… Kids these days, eh? ;)

Speaking of children… I had no idea they start this young…
I found this amusing, but it made me think about how we actually start to pass judgement from a very young age, or are we taught to?

Before I get into any deeper debates about these things… let's just conclude my days journey:

Things got busier and busier longer I stayed in the afternoon. As I write this I am sure there are still plenty people ebbing and flowing by the Thames (see what I did there?! :D), especially as there is a huge fireworks display in about an hour's time to finish the festivities. But I had to escape…

Unfortunately I couldn't float home like this balloon (how I envied him), but had to elbow my way home by foot.
This photo is another personal favourite from today. A bit surreal and lovely in the way that I caught a plane crossing the sky on the bottom left by pure accident.

I was trying out a few new and old tricks today when I could. I really like how this flare came out above the London Eye. I only wish I could've used a flash to make this look all ambient, but I'm no Diane Arbus and I'm sure the kids and their parents would have mobbed me if they thought that even for a second I was taking photos of them. Oh well, the perils of being a street photographer… You sometimes have to compromise on some technical aspects in the circumstances you are in.

But yes, until next time!
And yes, I don't know of any festivals coming up in the next couple of weeks so maybe,
just maybe, I'll be doing some normal London stuff! ;)

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Indian Summer

Today London's Regent Street hosted a festival called Indian Summer. In a nutshell: it was a celebration of India. This summer there have actually been over 1,500 different events celebrating everything and anything Indian. London is great like that, there is always something new to see and experience at your doorstep. I went and stayed all afternoon and this is what I saw:

It was very easy to get into the spirit of things.
The performers were everywhere and the air was filled
with the smell of gorgeous Indian food all the way down Regent Street.

The first thing I bumped into were these bagpipers.
Can you spot their biggest fan in the second photo? :D

Some people were still just rehersing for their main acts when I got there.
For a rehersal I thought this was quite impressive!
I found it quite amusing he was positioned perfectly under that GAP sign.

This is my favourite photo from the day.
It's got nothing to do with the festival really, but I just
loved how this couple "matched" their surroundings in front
of the Apple Store. :D

Dancing seems to be hard work by the looks of the feet on these traditional dancers.

I just loved how the strong colours made everything seem more exciting and vibrant today.
These guys were checking out the girls whilst waiting for their turn to do their performance.
Some things just cross cultures without any effort. :D


The main stage hosted a lot of action throughout the day.
Most of the live music was going straight through to BBC radio's Asian Network.
This is one of their DJ's, Bobby Friction (I think!). Very cool, eh?! ;)

Well, much cooler than the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone I must say.
But I had to snap a photo since I was in front row…
(The lady behind Ken is the minister of tourism for India)

One of the coolest things for me at the festival were the henna tattoos.
I got one very similar to the second one on my right hand, on my inner wrist as well.

One of the funniest things I saw today, but this photo really needs the back story:
London's biggest toy store Hamley's had put out a lovely pirate themed sand pit in front of the store for children to play at. They had professional entertainers in costume for the authentic feel. This was somewhat ruined when one of the pirates dropped a digital camera in the sand of the pit and broke it.
It really didn't work, as you can see in his expression…

Pirating seemed to be serious business elsewhere in the pit, too!

Most children were easily pleased at the festival, like these ones with just balloons…

… but not all were that impressed by what was on offer…

.. even when they had the best view in the place!

Maybe they were concerned about the mess made on the street? :D

Part of Regent Street had these lovely backdrops hanging
for everyone to get a chance to snap an authentic Indian-feel photo as a souvenier.
(So, I did! This couple is very cute and pink, so how could I resist?)

The other backdrop had more of a jungle feel.
I quite like how that tiger looks like its going for her ice cream!
She better watch out! :D

Ice cream seemed to be the hit of the day with everyone really.
Although, some were still thinking that maybe the grass was greener on the other side.
I only wish they really made ice cream cones in that big of a size! :D

Maybe she had one of those mega size ones.
At least she made a mega mess with hers! ;)

It really was a great day out, especially for me, since taking photos seemed to come very easy for me today. Maybe this was because I was having such a great time – there was so much to see and experience, and because I was shooting digital after doing a stint with somewhat more concentration needing analogue photography. ;) Either way I was pleased to come away with so many photos I was really happy with! Hope you have enjoyed them, too!

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