Street Portraiture in London

Yesterday I headed up to London to Enrol on my Masters course! The whole process took way less time then I expected, with 3 hours (?!) to spare before my train back to Brighton,  I headed out to shoot some street portraits. Personally I prefer to shoot un-staged images of people out and about, since I started shooting street photography around two years ago I have gained a lot of confidence getting closer to people to capture the action on the streets..

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Vienna Street Photography

During the summer I got explore the stunning city of Vienna. The streets were filled with well-dressed men and women against the backdrop of beautiful buildings. Here are my favourite street shots I took during my time there:

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48 Hours in Vienna: Day Two

I was extremely excited to wake up in the hotel knowing I have another full day in Vienna. I feel like we only saw a glimpse of what the city has to offer yesterday.

The Prater is a famous fairground featuring the huge ferris wheel. I love both rides and heights so it ticked all the boxes for me. It was an absolutely baking hot day so after a ride on the wheel we headed to the log flume. The funfair was free to get in and all the rides were extremely affordable. And best of all unlike theme parks I’ve been too, the longest queuing time was 5 minutes!

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View from the top of the wheel

After all this excitement we headed for the considerably calmer setting of St.Stephens Cathedral.  Although not religious myself, the architecture of the huge building built back in 1160! Entry was free of charge and there was plenty of seats for visitors to sit and reflect although it was so busy it would’ve been hard to zone out.

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As we were taking in the stunning interior of the church a huge thunderstorm hit. So we decided to take cover in the best place possible- the shops. After a few new outfits (and lunch) was bought we planned our next move- walking through the bustling streets back to the free film festival where the opera Carmen was being shown. With Ice cream in hand and the stars shining above we enjoyed our last night in the city.

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Hiding from the rain in H&M

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Locals and tourists mixing at the Music Film Festival

Overall I really enjoyed Vienna, two days is nowhere enough time to see everything with the sheer number of galleries and museums almost overwhelming. I really want to return to see more and experience the famous opera (currently on a summer break). The  atmosphere of the city feels older than close cities such as Budapest which has a much younger feel. But if you want a mixture of culture, a good climate and kind locals then Vienna is well worth a visit.

 

48 Hours in Vienna: Day One

It has taken more than one attempt to visit Vienna. Ill-timed illness as it were caused me to miss out on Vienna earlier this year but finally, this summer I managed to experience the Austrian capital and all it has to offer..

Day One

As with most holidays it started with our plane being delayed and spending an abnormal amount of time in the airport Starbucks. But eventually we were on our way, the flight was just under two hours from London Gatwick. Due to the delay we arrived at night- but this didn’t stop me being impressed with Vienna from the off.  The airport was clean, the train station was clearly sign posted and getting through passport control took literally two minutes!

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The lift ‘artwork’ in the hotel

After a good night sleep in our comfy yet slightly creepy hotel room we headed out to see Vienna. First up food (obviously). Cafe Central  famed for having customers such as Totsky, Stalin and Freud and serves pastry and hot food all day. Given the grand surroundings I was expecting a very high price tag- but instead I consumed the most beautiful food for an incredibly reasonable price.

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With full stomachs and time ticking on we decided we should probably see a bit of culture. The museum quarter is packed with museums (of course) but also a well though-out central area with chairs for reading, cafes and a water fountain. Each museum takes around half a day to go round so we had to pick one, we went for the Kunsthistorisches Museum which opened in 1891. It turned out to be the most stunning building I’ve ever seen, it’s packed with original artworks by painters such as Michelangelo, Rembrandt and my personal favourite Gustav Klimt. It’s so big I had to make use of all the sofas placed in all the rooms to give my feet a rest.

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After loosing track of time we left and explored more of the city. The city was buzzing and completed by chance we were there during the Vienna Music Film Festival. It’s on for the whole of the summer and takes place in front of the magnificent town hall. Its a big screen showing music-related films with 100 food stalls and around 2000 seats for the audience. And best of all its FREE. It would be unheard off to have an event like this free in somewhere like London.

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So with the sun setting we bought some burger, fries and settled in for a night under the stars watching a live recording of an Alicia Keys concert. Tomorrow we have a full day planned- shopping, the famous Prater fairground, St.Stephens cathedral and returning to the film festival.

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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! 

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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Lisbon Travel Diary: Touching Down

One lost boarding pass, a dropped phone and a two hour delay later we were out of Gatwick and finally on a plane flying to Lisbon.

We landed at 2.30pm and after a brief walk found ourselves on the metro. The station was incredibly grand and decorated with black and white murals.

It’s a relatively short journey from the airport to the centre of town (30 mins) and we soon arrived at the metro stop nearest our hotel. As we clambered up the stairs with our cases out the station we came to a stunning view; statue’s and a beautiful square in one direction and the sun shining on a winding river the other.

After taking too many photos we checked into our hotel. We’re not normally ones to complain but the room we were given in this highly-recommend hotel was very dark, claustrophobic and had an odd bathroom-you could see through from the bed..

But the staff were extremely helpful and moved us into another room which has both natural light and a bathroom with an actual door. So after quickly unpacking into our new room we went to explore.

We didn’t have much time left before the sun set so we just wandered around the local area, got some dinner and headed for an early night after having to get up at an inhumane hour for a delayed flight.

My first impressions of Lisbon are as good as they could be; pastry shops everywhere, trams and a beautiful riverside walk. I am really looking forward to getting to know this city and it’s history more in the next few days.

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!

36 Hours in Bratislava

Entering into Bratislava, Slovakia, myself and Emily had no idea what to expect from such a new country (25 years since it became independent).

As we walked through the train station, our first impressions weren’t brilliant. It was run down, busy and unclear which way was the exit into town. Thankfully as we left the station and found our hostel, just a 10 minute walk away, we were greeted by beautiful buildings and friendly locals enjoying the last of the sun.

By the time we checked in and sorted out our bags we didn’t have long before the sunset so we decided on a walk along the Danube (and a McDonald’s pit stop) to get a feel for the place.

Immediately we could tell, despite being the capital city, it is very small. When I googled ‘what to do in Bratislava’ the vast majority of activities suggested were day-trips to the surrounding countries..

But we were determined to see the best of Bratislava in the 36 Hours we were there so while using the free McDonald’s wi-fi we booked ourselves onto a free walking tour the next day.

Day One

Our first and last full day started with us dragging ourselves out of bed. Despite going to bed relatively early with the best of intentions, our fellow hostel roommates made consistent noise until 4am so the sound of the alarm was not a happy one. Still we managed to get to the meeting place of the walking tour with 5 minutes to spare.

The tour was led by Martina, a 25-year old Slovakian who has lived in Bratislava her whole life. Her energy and enthusiasm for her city was infectious and breathed life into the old buildings. The tour was 2.5 hours long but the time flew by. It was incredibly informative about Slovakia’s varied past and how it became what it is today. We also stopped at lots of photogenic spots..

The final stop felt like an odd one- a small square opposite a university building. But as Martina began to explain why we were there, the significance hit me. In 1968 the Soviet Union sent armed troops and tanks into Bratislava to end their liberal policies.

They targeted this square where shocked citizens of Bratislava came out to confront the troops. At that time word-of-mouth about the Soviet’s movements travelled slowly but one photograph travelled the world. A young photographer had gone into the square, shot images, developed them and snuck them out the country to gather the worlds media attention. Within days the photograph was splashed across the front pages of newspapers all over the world including the Nee York Times. For his own safety, Ladislav Bielik, the young newly-married photographer didn’t disclose his identity. It was only after his early death in 1989 did his family find the negatives to confirm it was he who took the photographs.

As a photography graduate and fan of street and documentary photography I have known about this image for years; it was extremely humbling to stand in the spot Bielik captured the image:

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Bratislava is filled with history and is currently dealing with a political crisis but its buildings are beautiful, the locals love their city and it’s a great transport hub to other countries. I would strongly recommend stopping off for a day or two if you’re travelling around Eastern Europe.

With weary legs we headed to a restaurant recommended by our tour guide. I tried the national dish of cheesy gnocchi with bacon along with Slovakia’s very popular (and healthier) version of coca-cola, Kofola.

Tomorrow we are spending most of the day on a bus travelling to Poland including stopping off in a tiny village in the Czech Republic, it’s sure to be another adventure..

72 Hours in Budapest

I am currently inter-railing around Eastern Europe so thought I’d put together a quick guide to each city I visit.

The trip didn’t get off to the best start as I missed the first city (Vienna) due to illness but I flew (along with 4 stag-do’s) to Budapest where I met my friend Emily to start our European adventure. Having visited Budapest for the first time around 4 years ago I was excited to return..

Day One

We woke up in our incredibly humid hostel around 9am, threw on some clothes and escaped to a bakery to get some air and food. From here we started our journey to the children’s railway- a railway run by children (?!).

Around 8km from the city centre it should’ve been a simple journey. But 4 trams, 1 cog railway and a bus later we found the station. We bought our train tickets from a boy no more than 12 years old and had a tickets checked by a girl who looked around 11 years old.

We went a few stops watching the beautiful snowy forests rush past the window as we gained altitude and then got off in what felt like the middle of nowhere. We slipped our way up an icy path through a forest to a chairlift. A chairlift that takes you down through the tree’s giving you a view across the entire city. It took at least 5 minutes giving us enough time to take some photos without dropping our cameras and soak in the view.

As the sun set we headed back into the centre of town to walk up to the citadella (some very grand statues) and along the Danube river to get some food.

Emily at a touch screen restaurant

A fully-packed first day but everything was well worth doing.

Day Two

As I drew the curtain back of my hostel bed I was greeted by a new arrival in our room. He proceeded to tell me and Emily how vodka is one the main components of the human body- 3 times in half an hour. Again we made a swift exit out our hostel to start the day. The first port of call was an old-school, Wes Anderson-style vernacular. It took us up slowly to the Hungary museum of art, an absolutely stunning building. Which we walked around the outside (the art was a bit modern for us) and then weaved our way through a village to Buda Castle. I had visited 4 years ago but it was just as jaw-dropping as it was before.

Knowing we wanted to try out the ruin bars in the evening we headed back to the hostel to have some rest and a shower, not before checking out the basilica and running around a Hungarian shopping centre looking for a toilet you don’t have to pay for.

As we are only in Budapest for a few days we decided to go for the most famous ruin bar. It’s made up of loads of quirky rooms, a mish-mash of items and variety of chairs (stools, signs, bathtubs..). After enjoying a few drinks we stumbled upon a music room. What first appeared to be a jazz band turned out to be an evening-long jam session where anyone can bring an instrument and swap out with another musician. It quickly turned into one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time and we even got to witness the most epic saxophone battle.

Day Three

The third day started slowly with some sore heads so we decided to spend our last day visiting the famous baths.

It’s just a 10 minute underground journey but it feels like you’re in a different city. Surrounded by grass, a frozen lake and huge statues it feels like a world away from the centre of Budapest.

We took many photos, had a walk and then entered into the baths. It was a great way to relax and warm up a bit. The baths were very busy but we never had any problem getting a seat in any of the them. After staying so long we looked like wrinkly raisins we decided it was for the best to go back to the hostel to pack our bags ready to check-out the next morning (and have a quick drink at our favourite ruin bar).

We are now on a train to Bratislava. The train is set out in cabins so we feel like we’re on our way to Hogwarts and have made many Harry Potter references much to the dismay of the fellow passengers in our cabin. I am really looking forward to Bratislava as I’ve never been before and have no idea what to expect!