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