Photographing 100,000 People!

Two weeks ago, on my way to visit my grandparents I got given a leaflet advertising the ‘Peoples March’, a demonstration against Brexit, in Central London on the 23rd June. I am always on the look out for new photography opportunities and as I was already heading up to Birmingham to catch up with some university friends this proved the perfect pitstop.

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I arrived at the meeting place half an hour before the start, there was an air of both excitement and confusion among the people gathering to make their voice heard. It was clear the amount of people far exceeded expectations at over 100,000 and many had no idea where the march actually started..

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Through sheer luck and determination (and no logic) I ended up at the front of the march along with all the tv cameras and political figures.

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It was a purely peaceful protest with samba bands, face painting and people singing. With so much going on it was hard to know where to look let alone photograph. I aimed to capture a mixture of people along with incorporating the backdrop of Central London.

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The light was extremely bright so I used a ND filter and focused on shooting with the sun behind me.  If you want to see more images from the protest check out my latest Instagram story @madisonbeachphotos.

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And if you’re looking for some travel inspiration check out Emily’s blog. Emily is one of my closest friends; both my roommate in Bangladesh and travel buddy in Eastern Europe and has just moved to Australia! A great travel writer and even better friend, head over to her new blog and give it some support! 

Shooting Expired Kodak Film

Last year I won the Ginnel Foto Fest Analogue awards. Part of my prize was being sent a box full of film. Some I’ve used before such as portra and Agfa, but there was also a roll of Kodak Tri X medium format film estimated to be 50 years old.

I have always wanted to shoot it so last weekend when me and my cousin went to Peacehaven. A small suburban town on the English coast where my cousin, Harry, grew up.

I got some surprisingly good results..

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If you ever get your hands on some expired film be sure to double check if your local lab develops it. After walking 40 minutes to mine it turns out they don’t develop expired films. If you’re based in the UK I would strongly recommend AG Photolab who are super friendly and based in Birmingham. I sent the film off on Wednesday and got it back today!

Lisbon Travel Diary: The Graffiti of Alfama

My favourite district of Lisbon is without a doubt Alfama. Its a cool neighbourhood filled with locals, students, cafe’s and elderly women selling alcohol from their front room..

It is also the Shoreditch of Lisbon, the streets and alleys house some of the city’s most famous graffiti. Here are a few of my favourite/ most controversial pieces..

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Lisbon Travel Diary: Eating the Most Famous Custard Tarts in the World!

Belém, a district famous for it’s custard tarts and monastery, is just a short tram ride away from the city centre. Unfortunately for us the tram didn’t turn up for half an hour and the queue was so long we wouldn’t of got on the first couple of trams that arrived.

So we made the decision to take the metro- only problem was the metro doesn’t go to Belém. So just two metro’s and a train later we finally arrived.  First impressions was busy- so so busy. Filled with tourists and students spilling out the cafe’s and taking in the beautiful architecture of the monastery.

Like many visiting, first stop was lunch. After trying to find a seat in a few restaurants we stumbled into a burger place. Turns out this place was a cosy, artisan burger joint and the best decision we made all day- it was absolutely delicious. Unfortunately I was so hungry I ate it before I could take a picture but this is the front of the restaurant, if you ever visit Lisbon I highly recommend a visit..

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With our stomachs full we headed to the windy riverside to see the gigantic monument; Padrão dos Descobrimentos.

The 171ft tall monument was finished in 1960 after 2 years of construction. It sits on the edge of the Tagus river and has a viewing platform at the top. There are 33 sculptures surrounding the monument representing figures (mainly white men) from history, with Henry the Navigator leading from the front.

The size and detail makes this a must see for a visit to Lisbon, as is the most famous Portuguese custard tart cafe. Pastéis de Belém house’s the most secretive recipe in the whole of Europe. The recipe was first created by monks 200 years ago and the recipe has not changed since. It is so secretive only 3 people know the recipe-and they won’t travel in the same car together. The custard tarts are so popular on an average day they sell 20,000!

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The queue came out the entrance all around the block.  But as we weren’t planning on returning to Belém during our time in Lisbon we joined the masses. And to be fair, the queue went down extremely quickly and before we knew it we were inside ordering a couple of custard tarts to take away. And boy, did they live up to the highest of expectations, well worth the wait.

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To end the day we headed back into the centre of Lisbon, this time by bus, and took a funicular up to a stunning viewpoint across the city to watch the (cloudy) sun set.

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Photography on the Streets of Prague

While inter-railing through Eastern Europe the sun was not on our side. We went a week without seeing it and when it did make an appearance from behind the clouds it was still -4 degrees! This made photography really hard as it made images look flat and dull.

With just a couple of days left a miracle happened.. I woke up to sun shining through the hostel windows. I didn’t take my Sony A7RII on the trip as I knew how cold it was going to be and that I’d have to leave it in the hostel when we went out partying.

So with just my phone I headed out to the main square in Prague. My old iPhone performed really well and I got some shots I’m really happy with. Only problem was it killed my battery within the hour and I was meant to be meeting Emily. Despite a lack of map, google maps and an internal sat-nav we managed to find each other.

So here are my favourite images from my hour in the middle of Prague draining my phone battery:

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72 Hours in Prague

The longest day of my life started at 9am at Krakow bus station, waiting for a bus that was already in the station but had the wrong number on the front. After eventually coming to the conclusion that that was indeed our bus me and Emily got on and sat in the last two remaining seats. Both were single seats next to people who I can only assume had forgotten to wash for a number of days.

But then more people boarded the bus- it had been overbooked. The 8 hour journey consisted of 3 people sitting on the floor of the bus, due to the overcrowding, blocking the way to the toilet. So every time we stopped to pick up more passengers to squeeze onto the bus, me and Emily sprinted to use the bus station toilets.

Thankfully just as the sun was setting we arrived in Prague and not only that, we got a free room upgrade at our hostel!

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Our local metro station had the longest escalator in the EU. It took 2.5 minutes to go up.

Day One 

After the first good night sleep we had had in weeks we made our way to the start of a free walking tour. The tour was led by Michael, an American 25-year old. At first we were sceptical about having a Prague tour led by an American who had not yet lived in the city for a year. But he was extremely knowledgable and personable. Although his timekeeping was not the best- the 2 hour tour lasted 3 hours in the bitter cold. But we did learn a lot about the Prague’s history and the famous architecture which contributes to the capital being known as the ‘city of a hundred spires’.

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Students taking a break

After warming up in a cafe we made our way through the narrow streets and crowds to the famous Charles bridge. It was incredibly busy but it was worth it to see the beautiful statues that line the bridge and a very enthusiastic busker.

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The busker on the bridge

All the sightseeing took its toll on us so after an amazingly tasty burger (which we go on to eat for the next two nights running) we headed back to the hostel for an early night.

Day Two 

By complete coincidence Emily’s dad was also in Prague. So while she went to meet him to drop off all the stuff she had bought on our trip and couldn’t fit in her case I went to the main square, which was draped in sunlight, to do an hour of street photography. It was the first time on the trip the sun allowed me to do some street photography. I will be posting them to this blog on Thursday but if you can’t wait till then you can head over to my instagram.

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After miraculously meeting up with Emily after my phone ran out of battery we headed over the Charles Bridge and up to Prague castle. Again it was very busy and the queue was so long we decided to take in the view of the city rather than go inside the castle. We then wiggled our way through the alleys and streets surrounding the castle. This was the first time in two days there were no tourists in sight and we felt like we were seeing an authentic side of Prague.

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Emily on our way up to the castle

We spent the rest of the evening trying to get lost to see a different side of Prague but kept ending up at the main square!

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A consumer of a ‘traditional’ chimney cake

My first impressions of Prague was not what I expected. Some places were so busy and full of tour groups you literally couldn’t move and we witnessed how a select few locals have capitalised on this. With ‘traditional’ cakes being sold (which are from Hungary) along with signs put up by the council warning tourists of not using taxi’s due to how much they will overcharge. We were also on the end of some very poor customer service in a couple of restaurants and a cafe (think 1/5 on Trip Advisor worthy). And we saw road rage so extreme the two drivers took to the street to ‘sort it out’ in front of a historic statue.

Day Three

Our final day consisted of no plans- just to wander. We felt very safe to explore the different suburbs. We ended up walking along the river and up to a huge pendulum at the top of a hill. The pendulum represents moving forward and the end of communism. From here we had one of the best views of our whole trip. You could see the river wind round the city, all the bridges and hundreds of church spires.

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With a few hours left before our flight we decided to explore the suburb at the top of the hill- I’m so glad we did. It was understated yet beautiful and filled with Prague locals going about their day. The suburb was surrounded by well-maintained parks and an easter fairground. Until this point I could never imagine what it would be like to live in Prague, but here I got a small glimpse and loved it.

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My opinions on Prague changed from hour to hour. I loved the architecture and river but the mass of tourists and lack of customer service skills left us feeling a bit underwhelmed. But these are just my personal views from what we experienced and I would never discourage anyone from visiting. Prague and the Czech Republic have an intriguing history and the beer is not taxed like other alcohol which helps contribute to a (very) lively night life.

Sadly Prague was our last city on our trip! I am currently putting together a video of our Eastern European adventure which I’ll be posting to this blog, but until then I hope you all have great week, and please recommend where I should visit next!

48 Hours in Krakow

The journey from Bratislava to Krakow was a very, very long one. It consisted of a 2 hour bus journey to the edge of the Czech Republic then a 5 hour bus journey to Krakow. The entire journey consisted of me and Emily slowly dehydrating in an effort to avoid using the one, incredibly smelly bus toilet (not recommended).

But finally at 9pm we made it to a very cold Krakow. After checking-in to our hostel we grabbed some dinner and crashed into bed.

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From start to finish it was a day of contrasts. It was pouring with rain from the minute we woke up from our poor night sleep (hostels..)  and didn’t stop the entire day. But while getting completely rain-sodden I was continually taken aback with the beauty of Krakow and the sheer amount of pastry/chocolate shops.

We walked and walked and walked. Exploring every area recommended to us by the receptionist at the hostel. From the old town and jewish quarter to the winding river and graffitied back streets.

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We took ‘essential’ shelter in pastry shops throughout the day. At one point my coat was so wet and both my shoes were filled with puddles I had to use a radiator in one of the shops. While waiting for my clothing to get slightly less wet we chose our next destination- the Schindler museum. With a Trip Advisor score of 4.5/5 our hopes were high.

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My biggest highlight of the museum trip was the free cloak room. The museum was extremely text heavy with information on literally every wall, but oddly there was only one room dedicated to Schindler himself. Due to the rain (and trip advisor score) the museum was very busy, and despite a visitor limit I still found it too busy and hard to take my time to absorb all the information.

Despite both the weather and museum I loved my first day in Krakow. The architecture is stunning, the city is buzzing with locals and tourists alike and there’s plenty of bars to keep you occupied in the evening.

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Day Two 

Our second day in Krakow started at 6.45am. We had booked onto a tour of Auschwitz. The tour stared with a pick-up at a near by hotel- easier said than done. When no one came to pick us up in the lobby at the appointed time we decided to go looking for the coach ourselves- needless to say we almost missed the coach with our ‘exploring’.

The hour journey consisted of being introduced to our tour guide and watching a video giving a history of the two sections of the Auschwitz camps. It was hard but essential viewing to give substantial context to the day.

Overnight the rain had turned to snow and the temperature had dropped. As we stepped off the coach it was absolutely perishing, with a constant,brutal wind and temperature of -12 degrees. The tour of the two camps took three hours. It was a gruelling day learning of the horrors that took place in the very places we were standing. I was taught about concentration camps at school but being there in person creates a feeling like no other.

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With the weather replicating that of the winters during the war it made it incomprehensible how anyone survived. It was a hard-hitting day but one I would recommend to visitors of Poland.

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After being dropped off back in the centre of Krakow we took refuge in a restaurant to get out of the wind. After warming up we headed back to the hostel. Only problem was our keys didn’t work- we were now stuck out in what was now -14 degrees. Thankfully another resident at the hostel came down the stairs and opened the door from the inside- well tried too. Turns out the keys weren’t the problem- the lock on the door was broken. Long story short, we spent another 30 minutes in the freezing cold before being rescued by finding a back entrance to the hostel.

Our next and last stop is Prague, I am very excited as I’ve heard good things but wish we had more time in Krakow as its turned out to be real hidden gem!

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Me enjoying the snow and the rare glimpse of sunshine!

Street Photography: When the Subject Spots You…

There are many different approaches you can take when it comes to street photography. From the shoving-a-flash in your face and not giving a damn technique (Bruce Gilden) to going completely unoticed like Vivian Maier. Today I went out to shoot street photography on the streets of Brighton for 3 hours, but rather than showing you my favourite shots I thought i’d share some of my outtakes.  And these are outtakes because the subjects in the frame are looking either at me or the lens. Some photographers aim for these sort of images but not me.

Before you see the images I thought I’d share with you some advice if someone notices you doing street photography or has a problem with it. 99% of the time the person will keep walking and not give another thought to you or your camera. But on the odd occasion that someone takes issue with you taking their picture here are a few tips:

1.Stay calm and be polite.

2. Delete the image and show them (no image is worth a public argument)

3.Know your rights (in the UK you have the right to photograph in public areas)

4.Don’t let it affect your confidence and keep shooting..

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Lumiere London

Yesterday, as the sun was setting I jumped on a train up to London to visit the Lumiere light festival. Three years ago, when visiting a friend at York university I went to one of the first Lumiere light festivals. It was made up of around 10 brilliant installations being viewed by a couple hundred people.

Now the festival is so huge its on for 4 days around the centre of London with roads shut, hundreds of stewards and thousands of people attending. I had a brilliant night trying to see as much as possible walking with a camera in one hand a tripod in the other. The last night is tonight so if your around London go visit! It is all free and starts at 5.30pm.

 

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For those who can’t make it, I am putting together a video of my time which I will post here on this blog!