In praise of Photowalks – three 35mmc contributors on the Thames Embankment

By Bob Janes

Following on from a recent posting by Tim Wainwright, we met up at Southwark’s Borough Market, along with another 35mmc contributor, Peter Roberts. The idea was to get to know each other and to find some interesting things to photograph.

This posting is an attempt to document our walk along the banks of the Thames back in May.

The way meetings tend to work

There are no rules to the way that these informal photo walks work. The following just is based on my experience.

Many years ago, over at Dyxum (a mainly digital KM/Sony Alpha group), we started meeting up. Our first meeting was also by the banks of the Thames. It was swiftly followed up by an international meet-up in Norway. Members came together from the UK, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

Local meets became quite routine before the lockdown. Having an international array of contacts, made it possible for me to meet up with people on my travels to places as far away as San Francisco, Vancouver, New York City and Melbourne. I also had trips to the low countries, Germany, Croatia, France and Sweden. It was also good to  meet up with people visiting from the States and elsewhere and show them my city.

Groups

A group of three or four tends to stay pretty much together. Larger meet-ups, involving as many as 10 or 12 people, may naturally break up into groups of 2-4. People wander off in different directions. These groups usually bump into each other some time later. Individuals switch from one group to another quite fluidly. To prevent total anarchy, it helps to have a set rendezvous place and time for everyone to meet up again, before either saying their goodbyes, have lunch, or move on to another location.

The shared experience can be a good way to forge a friendship with those you almost feel you know in any case via the internet.

Even if you are more comfortable taking photographs alone, it can be interesting to see how others tackle the same subject and to see the things they notice that I might otherwise have overlooked. I always find it fascinating to see the results that the other photographers produce.

Bob

By nature, I’m a solitary photographer. I just like to wander and observe. However, there is something to be said for going out shooting in a group.

Although I’ve met up with fellow photographers fairly regularly over the last 10-15 years, the opportunities evaporated over the lockdowns, and I’d got out of the habit a bit. Doing a primarily film-based photo walk wasn’t something I’d done before, and having too many projects on the go at once led to me taking rather more cameras (an OM2n, X-300, old Agimatic and a Rolleiflex) than was wise. I should really have stuck to one or two.

It was great to meet up with new people again, albeit people who felt rather familiar from their 35mmc postings. It was notable that we were all ‘of a type’ with Tim being the relative youngster of the group. While that is very easy, it is also nice to get a more diverse perspective and I wonder if we might interest younger photographers to come along too if we did further photo walks in future.

Tim and Peter were good company – I’m glad we got together, and would hope to meet up again in future.

Bob’s pictures

All of these shots were taken on Kentmere 400 (now available in 120!) and processed in R09.

No Cycling here… A Swedish friend made an observation when he visited London. ‘You have lots of prohibitive notices in your country – and nobody seems to take notice of them’. Olympus OM2n, Vivitar S1 28mm f/1.9
Tower Bridge walkways with medium format. Rolleiflex K4/50, Zeiss 75mm f/3.5 Tessar
Peter and Tim up near City Hall. Lowered contrast here makes me think I should get a hood for the Tessar. Rolleiflex K4/50, Zeiss 75mm f/3.5 Tessar
HMS Belfast from the South Bank. Rolleiflex K4/50, Zeiss 75mm f/3.5 Tessar
River steps. Visitors from abroad are often surprised that the tides can alter the river level by several meters. AGI Agimatic, Anastigmat 45mm f/2.8
Shapes. More expensive flats overlooking the Thames. Olympus OM-2n, Vivitar S1 28mm f/1.9
The roof of old Billingsgate. Olympus OM-2n, Zuiko 85mm f/2.0
Posh balconies. AGI Agimatic, Anastigmat 45mm f/2.8
Peter and Tim chatting on the South Bank. Olympus OM-2n, Vivitar S1 28mm f/1.9

Tim

At the start of the year, I promised myself that I would be more adventurous and try to move a little beyond what I have found comfortable in regard to photography. The first step was to write an open and honest article in 35mmc about my questions, doubts and conundrums regarding myself as a photographer and what my next steps might be.

I was very lucky that, among others, Bob and Peter replied and following electronic conversations we agreed to meet up in London for an afternoon of photography, of getting to know each other and to try something new.

It was lovely to meet and talk to new people with a shared passion for photography and to listen to other perspectives, insights and ‘focusses’; personal experiences and where we all are in our photographic journeys. We parted on a positive note thinking that it had been a very useful experience and one that we would like to repeat.

I agree with Bob that a wider group of participants and a wider range of experiences would be welcome, so if you are based in this part of the world and feel like sharing some thoughts and having a walk for a few hours a few times a year, then please get in touch.

I’m interested to see how we all saw and interpreted the same scenes and am looking forward to seeing the photographs in the published article.

Tim’s pictures

Old and new architecture near Tower Bridge – Fuji XE3 and 16mm lens
Police patrol boat roaring up the Thames from Tower Bridge – OM1 and 50mm
Shadows and light underneath Cannon St Station I think – OM1 and 28mm
A pigeon waiting for an emergency – OM1, 28mm
Tate Modern, OM1, 28mm
The ‘City’ from Tower Bridge, OM1, 50mm
Three Spaces, OM1, 28mm

Peter

When the idea of this photo walk was floated and I expressed an interest I did make the stipulation that it should be a smallish group. I seem to remember saying that I would not like to be part of what I described as a “phalanx of photographers”. On the other hand, it is all too easy these days to hide behind the internet without intending to. Exchanging comments and thoughts on places like 35mmc brings together folk with a shared interest and is great, but nothing beats face to face interaction if that can be achieved.

The walk was a truly enjoyable and informative experience even if, travelling light with just one camera and two lenses, I felt somewhat outgunned by Bob. I would certainly recommend others to try and set up something similar in their part of the world.

All photos taken with a Minolta XD7 using 45mm f2 and 28mm f3.5 Rokkors. The film was Tri-X at box speed developed in Rodinal. The descriptions sometimes reflect what I find just as interesting as photographing a relatively unknown area: post-research into what has attracted me as subject matter.

Peter’s pictures

Each window holds a story. But no time to linger for coffee as we’ve barely started and are still in Borough
Saint Olave, King of Norway. Mosaic on St Olaf House which was built in art-deco style on the site of St Olave’s church. Originally built as the headquarters of the Hay’s Wharf Company it is now part of London Bridge Hospital and hemmed in by its taller, modern neighbours
Rubik’s Cloud. I can’t resist reflections
Parish boundary marks on the river wall. St Dunstan in the East and All Hallows Barking, now more usually known as All Hallows-by-the-Tower. I love this sort of little historical detail
I think we all had a go at this shot
Belfast and Hameemaa. Finnish patrol vessel FNS Hameemaa was moored alongside HMS Belfast
Not so flat flats
Tate Modern. Popular as always
I often think I’ve grown up and older with the South Bank Centre. It’s now getting a bit shabby around the edges and unconcerned with outward appearances, so the analogy continues to hold
Last but not least. Two types, Bob and Tim

Conclusion

If others might be interested in photowalks in their own local area, meeting up with other 35mmc subscribers, it may be possible to set up these up using the ‘Real Photographers Forum’. If you might be interested, please let us know in the comments.

 

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About The Author

By Bob Janes
Retired IT guy. Volunteer stem-cell courier. Interested in education, photography and local history. Lives in Greenwich, SE London, UK.
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Comments

Ibraar Hussain on In praise of Photowalks – three 35mmc contributors on the Thames Embankment

Comment posted: 07/08/2023

Enjoyed this post with so many pleasing photographs I must say the southbank is my favorite photo location in London
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Ted Ayre on In praise of Photowalks – three 35mmc contributors on the Thames Embankment

Comment posted: 07/08/2023

Ah this is great to read Bob! I'm happy you were able to meet-up - I joined a network called North West Film Photo over the last year, and it's been great to meet-up with likeminded folks.
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Tim Bradshaw on In praise of Photowalks – three 35mmc contributors on the Thames Embankment

Comment posted: 05/08/2023

I'd be interested in this as it would be good for me, both in London where I am fairly often or perhaps in Devon (Exeter?) / Bristol where I exist most of the rest of the time. I think I am findable on the Real Photographers forum. ... and I am wondering if I should turn up to one with my 4x5 camera ...
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Gil Aegerter on In praise of Photowalks – three 35mmc contributors on the Thames Embankment

Comment posted: 05/08/2023

Looks like a fun walk in a photogenic part of town. I often go on similar strolls in Seattle, but mostly alone. Maybe I'll try a meet-up!
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Sam Edwards on In praise of Photowalks – three 35mmc contributors on the Thames Embankment

Comment posted: 05/08/2023

I work in the City and spend a great deal of time walking around the City/the old East end/Brick Lane with my various cameras. I have a few “local” spots I‘d love to share. I’d love to take part in the next meet up.
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Geoff Chaplin on In praise of Photowalks – three 35mmc contributors on the Thames Embankment

Comment posted: 05/08/2023

Yes, when I'm in London later this year I'd love to join in. Incidentally inspiring photos of an area I know well but don't "see" as well as you chaps.
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