Travel photography is all about watching, listening and feeling a place. It is a process of finding the soul of a city and documenting it. Some would argue that merely taking images of the cities’ famous landmarks could surely document a large city. As someone who has travelled extensively I can tell you that the way to really see a city is not on a tour bus. I prefer taking trains, buses, and ferries to photograph everyday life within a city.
The thing I noticed first in London is that people actually read newspapers and books on the underground train network (or Tube as it is more commonly known). The next time you get on an urban train see if you can count the number of people reading a book or newspaper vs an electronic device. Last time I checked a Sydney train I did not see one newspaper or book.
The Tube proved to be one of the most critical pieces of infrastructure for this city as everybody who utilises the Tube felt the chaos when it closed for a day due to strike action. I overheard one street worker say that it took him 4 hours to get to work that day. Apart from the strike action and ongoing line work, the London Underground is a relatively efficient method of exploring this vast and beautiful city.
A City of Contrasts
This city is full of striking opposites. A love and dedication to their extensive national history is mixed with a very modern growing city. The old and the new are ever present: books vs tablets, historic architecture vs very modern buildings with unusual names such as ‘The Gherkin’.
A Fashion Melting Pot
The other thing most noticeable in London is the variety of dress styles. It appears that nobody is judged by their wardrobe but rather they use it as an expression of their personality.
The Heart and Soul of London
The heart and soul of London I believe can be found in the many parks and gardens and by the River Thames. So the collection of images for London is to represent a people that love their green spaces and spending time by the river, mixed with their flamboyant fashion styles and acceptance. These images are perhaps not always those expected of a trip to London, but are what I feel most represents the soul of this city.
The River Thames and London’s Parks and Gardens:
Coffee… My search for a home away from home
I have come to find that during travel to a new city, particularly in one that I am going to stay longer than a couple of days, that I need to connect to the local people. It is the only way for me to truly experience a new city and really see it. Over time I have found that my passion for good coffee has been an excellent way to meet the locals and discover the hidden gems that lie within local knowledge. I was lucky that on my first morning I stumbled upon a café/bar/restaurant that served excellent coffee. As a coffee aficionado from Sydney I always find it difficult to get really good coffee outside Australia whilst travelling. After discovering the location for good coffee, I went out of my way each day to get my fix and speak with the staff. I was able to get recommendations and found somewhere that I could spend hours reading or writing a blog, a sort of home away from home. Oh, and the pastries, chocolate brownies, and sweets so deliciously good. See some of the photos below. I challenge anyone to find a better chocolate brownie on earth that is better than this one from this café.
The Classic London Images with a Twist
Finally for those that are looking for some classic travel photos of London, I took a few just to keep the purists happy. So Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, the black cabs and red double decker buses, Buckingham Palace, and Trafalgar Square are all included in the next series of photos.
How To See London
In my opinion those you really want to see London, grab a coffee and a good book and sit in a local park and watch the city. When its time for dinner, take a stroll down Southbank on the banks of the Thames, grab some food from one of the many food vendors, grab a drink of the local beer on tap and take up a seat with all the rest of the locals. Spend the rest of the evening walking along the Thames River. This city is so much more than its famous landmarks and needs to be experienced.