I have a thing about reflections and unusual views. It came to me the other day while I was sorting my images in Bridge and I thought it would make an interesting blog post. While I am a country girl at heart, I worked in London for three years back in the 1970s. If you can put up with the transport delays, crowds and litter, then it is an ideal destination for a day out. I loathe it with a vengeance in the summer though and I’m reminded of a trip I took up there on a fine day last spring. Thinking it was still early in the year, I risked a walk from Charing Cross, down to the Embankment and along the South Bank. Never again! Being tiny, I tend to get lost in crowds and I was repeatedly mown down by enthusiastic pairs of joggers, but I digress.
It may be hot, dirty and full of tourists in the summer, but I love London in the winter. Even when I used to work in Victoria, I would never visit the parks in the summer, but on a cold winter’s day – they were all mine! I love the anonymity of people wrapped up in coats and hats and the way a chill wind can suddenly catch them off guard as they turn the corner of a building. I love the light that has trouble filtering down to the streets below, but when it does, it can be quite magical.
Street photography is my passion, but I’m not into the current fad of walking around and sticking my lens in the faces of unsuspecting strangers. I once watched a video made by a well-known photographer who filmed himself at work. At first I was drawn in as he strode around the streets like he owned them and he did make it look so easy. Then he spotted a person here or a couple there and moved in for a closer shot. Their expressions resembled rabbits caught in car headlights and I found his passing compliment “nice dress”, as poor payment for a liberty already taken. I continued watching with growing alarm and vowed never to become like this. My sort of street photography usually shows people in context with their surroundings. I try to blend in with the crowd and I would be mortified if I was spotted. I daresay some of my other images will pop up from time to time, but this was supposed to be about unusual views of London.
The featured photograph here was taken on my way out of the Tate Modern. Having arrived on the train over an hour earlier, I still hadn’t taken a single picture and I lacked inspiration. Then I remembered the magnificent turbine hall in the gallery and I made my way to the entrance. It clearly wasn’t going to be my day as the end of the building had been blacked out for one of the current exhibitions. I tried a couple of the galleries, but I couldn’t see anything of interest. Having decided to cut my losses and move on, I was at the top of the escalator when I spotted this image unfolding. I grabbed one quick shot and got lucky. In spite of repeated attempts, the camera stubbornly refused to focus on all that glass. By this time my antics up and down the same escalator had attracted the attention of a security guard, so I slipped into the crowds and left.
Back in the daylight again – I wandered under the Millennium Bridge to decide where to go next. Then I looked up and realised you could see through the walkway to the people above. Not just people, but there was a familiar outline. Having left our two llamas in the fields at home, here was one in the middle of London! I pointed the camera up and waited for the right moment, while passers-by didn’t see a thing.
Further along and under the end of the original London Bridge this time and I was trying to capture reflections of passing tourists in the colourful posters. I could hardly believe my eyes when I spotted a Beefeater coming down the road. Luck was with me as the tourists had all vanished, but as he disappeared through a small back door, I realised the truth behind this image. He was really an actor from the London Bridge Experience and I can only presume they didn’t have any facilities on site and were using those from a pub down the road. A few minutes later, I watched a mediaeval serving girl returning with a can of drink.
And finally, down to City Hall and the magnificent staircase designed by Norman Foster. Only I wasn’t allowed in as it is open to the public just one day a year. I stood outside feeling a bit miffed, but then I spotted this reflection of Tower Bridge with a couple of passing pedestrians. It was a good end to an interesting day.