London Art Spot: Linda Wisdom

Linda is a street photographer in every sense of the word, creating moments and images from lines and light and shadows. A stickler for great composition, she lets her art follow the words of Ted Grant, capturing Londoners’ souls rather than the colours of their clothes. Linda is a Londoner through and through and knows this city inside out. She was also a recent Sense The City competition finalist so you can find her ‘St. Pancras International’ photograph currently on display at the London Transport Museum until March. Then she’s preparing to participate in the London Photography Festival, mid-May.

Read on for a few words from Linda on what’s important to her in composing a shot and the delight when she realised she captured one of her favourite shots at the perfect moment.

LLO: How do you think being a born and bred Londoner influences the way you approach photography in this city? 
LW: I think I have a good sense of the city and the people of London being a Londoner myself. I know where I want to go when I want to take a particular style of street photography. I generally know where to find certain types of characters or to find some new shapes and lines for working geometry into a shot for example. You discover a lot of shortcuts and backstreets when you have been in a city a while, which are usually have more interesting things to photograph then the main busy streets.

LLO: You have one hour and a camera. Where do you spend it and why?
LW: All depends on my mood, the weather, the style I want to capture! I’m usually walking around from place to place so it’s difficult to choose a specific location, but I do love areas like Brick Lane, Soho and the City. A photographic scene can present itself no matter where you are or where you go; that’s the beauty of street photography.

LLO: Your street photography is nearly exclusively shot in black and white. Explain this decision. 
LW: There’s a famous quotation by Ted Grant “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!”. I believe this is true in my case. My main objectives are usually on composition, shapes and lines, light play, decisive moments or character study. Unless a scene has strong colour elements in it that can only work in colour, I tend to convert it to black and white so you focus on the intended composition.

LLO: Tell us about one of your favourite photographs that has a specific “London” element in it, one that could only have been shot here. 
LW: This shot (below) I guess could only have been taken in London. I love this location in Trafalgar Square as this wall is like a clean ‘canvas’ background for a strong subject to walk past. It just happened to be raining and the pavement reflections were really clear. When I saw this woman coming along with the ‘I Love London’ umbrella I made sure I was in position to get the shot.

LLO: Do you think London is street photography friendly? Why or why not? Have you ever had a negative experience?
LW: I’ve had mixed reactions from people if they have spotted me taking their photo, but it’s all been mostly positive. As a street photographer you have a responsibility to respect other people’s opinions if they don’t want their photo taken. But if I’m ever approached I usually tell them the reason I took their photo, which is usually a compliment anyway, to which they walk away with no issue and in some cases are flattered.

LLO: Which elements are most important to you when composing a shot?
LW: Definitely composition. I also love using light elements and geometry in my photos. I dislike messy or too busy compositions!

LLO: It takes some guts to be a great street photographer. How did you overcome any initial fears or anxieties about photographing strangers?
LW: A combination of things… mostly building up your confidence over time – I’ve been taking street shots for about three years now. Sometimes, if you see a shot you really really want to get, you just have to put any anxiety aside and just shoot! Having the right kit you feel comfortable with and knowing your settings to get the shot as swiftly as you can candidly. Another thing is understanding the psychology of other people; I usually see there is a paranoia in their eyes or their body language change, when a camera is pointed at them and the questions they usually ask me suggest this. So, I now know what to say and what do if I am ever approached to resolve a situation and this seems to work.

LLO: Which photograph are you most proud of to date? Tell us the story behind it.
LW: This one (below) was taken on 1st December 2011. I was out alone one rainy, cold evening in Central London with my camera as I wanted to get some night street photography shots.  I already had a few shots, but nothing special. My camera was getting wet but I persisted (as I do!) hoping to get something I was really happy with. I got to Leicester Square and loved how when people where crossing this particular road the car lights between their legs looked really cool. Everyone was wearing dark clothing, but this guy stood out in his beige Mac so I took a few shots but wasn’t sure if I had got a good one. It was only when I got home and checked my photos on my computer that I saw that he happened to be looking up just at the perfect time and knew I got the shot.

LLO: Is there anywhere in London where you have not yet taken your camera but would love to do so? 
LW: Not that I can think of. I’ve taken my camera to most corners of London, but there are places I have yet to go of course. Street photography isn’t location specific, it’s better to be at the right place, at the right time. I want to go to New York City though to take some street shots!

Thanks Linda!

See more of Linda’s work, visit her websiteFlickr page or Facebook page.

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

Shando Shoots London

A warm welcome to the newest Flickr pool contributor: Shando. Here’s five London photos recently added, the first few taken with an 8mm fisheye lens and the last two lovely shots taken underground.

Steel

Gherkin

NYE Pano

Help Point - Explored #285 17 Dec 11

Strangers on a Train

Great point of view on the last one, don’t you think?

Thanks Shando!

London Art Spot: Faron Kee

Faron Kee is a talented 30-something photo-artist, born and bred in London. Faron has a deep appreciation for those green patches interspersed throughout the city, a spiritual connection to nature, as he refers to it, that has been with him his whole life and sparked his initial interest in photography. He’s influenced by the likes of Balthasar Burkhard, Morley Baer, Herb Ritts, and Edward Weston.

Inviting us into his black and white dreamworld, Faron shared a few pieces of photo art for London Art Spot. He talks about what he hopes for his art to communicate, how his dyslexia influences his work and the change his photography has undergone over the years.

LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
FK:
 London is an incredible place to live. The diversity, history and mix of influences makes a stimulating environment in which I am constantly inspired.

LLO: Have you stumbled on any fascinating little corners of London while out with your camera that you didn’t know about before?
FK: 
I am constantly surprised by what I can find when out-and-about with my camera. Take Highgate for example. I am walking through a quaint, leafy village, but then just a few moments away, one is struck by the contrast of urban Archway. Both places inspire me in different ways.

LLO: One of the main ideas behind Little London Observationist is finding the beauty in the little things, which your photos seem to gear toward as well. What else do you wish to communicate through your photography?
FK:
 For me, my work has always been about communicating feelings and thoughts. I’m dyslexic so my photography is a voice.There is something ‘magical’ existing parallel to what we see. I am receptive to that energy and I simply cannot produce my work without it. I have been told that my work is haunting and minimalistic. A tortured beauty.

LLO: Tell us about your series “London Parks Study”.
FK: 
London parks have always been a sanctuary to me. Whenever I need to ‘re-charge my batteries’, or to ‘step away’ from the madness, I visit them.

LLO: Do you always shoot black and white?
FK: 
Exclusively! Colour is often distracting to me. I want to get to the essence of my subject and I feel black and white best suits the way I want to work. The world of black and white is filled with such wonder.

LLO: What has lead you to create so-called “moody” photography? What attracts you to it? 
FK: 
My photography has never felt moody to me, I can appreciate how others may interpret it. This is just how I see the world and I love it.

LLO: How old were you what you first became interested in photography and in which ways has your style changed and developed over the years?
FK: 
I believe I have always had a photographer’s eye, making up little films in my head, but it wasn’t until my early 30s did I become so interested in photography. Over the years, my work has undergone a journey of simplification. This way, I have a much clearer vision of what I want to say.

LLO: What elements are most important to you when composing a shot?
FK: 
Believe it or not, I prefer to shoot when it isn’t so bright outside. I prefer low contrast because this makes my post-production more fruitful. I am able to create a much larger dynamic-range working this way. Also, on a personal level, I’m not one for bright light!

LLO: For those photography enthusiasts out there, tell us about your equipment.
FK:
 I use a Nikon D3X and if I want to shoot film I use a Yashica T4. It has a cool Zeiss lens. My other lenses are a 16mm, 35mm and a 100mm. For post I use a combination of Lightroom and Photoshop.

LLO: Which other London-based artists do you admire?
FK:
 There are only two from London that I can think of immediately: The notorious Tracey Emin and Ben Stockley who shoots remarkable moods. Most of my influences are master photographers who are no longer with us.

Thanks Faron!

See more of Faron’s work on Flickr.

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

The Bridge, The Dome and The Wharf

“Beauty can be seen in all things; seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”
– Matt Hardy

It’s amazing how a certain approach to photography can make me look at something familiar with a new appreciation. That’s how I feel when I look at Don Kiddick‘s photos like the ones below that he added to the Flickr pool. The way he plays with light and shadows, etc. in his photography creates these pristine images of London icons.

The girl, the dolphin and the bridge

Occupied

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries

I find myself exploring London in a completely opposite way from what these photographs communicate. I tend to seek out the grit and grime, the spray-painted walls and stray banana peels, the eccentric people and misspelled signs. I never really look at London in reality the way Don’s photos allow me to see it. He has an ability to bring out its romantic appeal, and I appreciate that.

(That said, Don’s photos aren’t always so glowingly inviting either; he’s also taken photos of subjects like abandoned morgues…But back to London, if you’re looking for more like these from Don, check out his London rooftops set. They’re just as gorgeous as these.)

London Art Spot: Heather Conway

When she’s not tending to her two young sons or attending photography classes, Heather Conway can be found aiming her camera at some of London’s much-beloved, world-renowned landmarks – the likes of Big Ben, the London Eye and Tower Bridge. Next week, though, Heather is leaving us to emigrate to the United States, so her London shots will surely stick with her as a little reminder of home. I managed to get a few words out of her while she was probably sitting on a floor in her packed up house, laptop perched on boxes (or so says my creative imagination…). 

Read on to find out how Heather’s favourite shot was taken this year, her thoughts on what she will miss when she leaves the UK and that one London legend she’d love to get in front of her camera for a portrait session.

LLO: Where in London do you most love to take your camera and why? 
HC: Westminster. There are so many wonderful landmarks there to capture the beauty of London.

LLO: Do you remember when you first fell in love with photography and how has your style evolved since then?
HC: Absolutely, it was around 17 years ago. I’m not sure my style has changed so much as my ability in the digital world. Photographic computer programs can enhance any image in a number of ways; you can have one piece and create several different images out of it.

LLO: Favourite London shot you took this year? Tell us the story behind how you created it. (photo below)
HC: I was with my college class in Westminster when I was taking some shots of the Houses of Parliament at night with the tripod. It was very cold, wet and windy. There were many people walking over the bridge. I was stood on Westminster bridge with my tripod and there was a couple in front of me talking to each other. I was hoping I’d get them in the shot, as with a long shutter speed you tend to get ghostly images of people moving around, if at all, and thankfully they were still long enough for me to get them into the shot.

LLO: What is your favourite London discovery?
HC: Just the average every day houses you see on the way into Liverpool Street station from Hertfordshire. They’re so urban and interesting, I wish I had taken the time to photograph more of that, but it’s quite difficult to fit some things in with two small boys at home.

LLO: You’re in the process of emigrating from the UK to the US. Which aspects of London/British life do you think you will miss the most and what will you be happiest to leave behind?
HC: There’s so much I’ll miss. The architecture is very different, churches for example. I’ll miss seeing a row of old English terraced houses, cobblestone streets, etc. The ability to travel anywhere by public transport; I don’t drive, but that’s never been a problem living so close to London. I’ll be happy to leave my small home behind, I look forward to more space!

LLO: Do you think your move will change the way you approach your photography at all? 
HC: I really don’t know. It might do, the scenery will be very different, I look forward to seeing what’s out there during all four seasons.

LLO: What sort of equipment do you use?
HC: I use a very basic Canon SLR, a 1000D. I use the standard kit lens, a 75-300mm zoom and a 90mm macro F2.8.

LLO: You do a lot of portrait photography. What makes a successful portrait session? What elements have to be in place? How much direction do you need to give?
HC: I came first in my college class for portraiture, which surprised me somewhat as it’s not really my favourite type of photography. I think to ensure the session goes well, you have to build a level of trust with the model; they need to feel comfortable with your presence, direction and being photographed by you. As long as you can make them feel happy and at ease, then it should be a good photo shoot.

LLO: If you could do a portrait session with a well-known Londoner, who would you choose and why?
HC: Oh that’s easy; it’d have to be David Jason. He’s a London legend! I would love to get him in front of my camera. His facial expressions are fantastic!

LLO: Which other London-based artists do you most admire at the moment?
HC: Louise Riley is an incredible London-based artist. Her work continues to amaze me!

Thanks Heather!

See more of Heather’s work in her Etsy shop.

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

If you want to recommend someone for a London Art Spot interview, leave a comment or email me: stephanie.sadler@hotmail.co.uk!