Dear StreetHunters.net Readers,
This past weekend I visited the city of London in the UK, to film a Street Hunt video and to attend the 1st Annual Street Hunters Meeting. I stayed for 3 nights and had an amazing time! London is a versatile city, full of many amazing characters. At first I was overwhelmed by its size and I felt like an ant in the sea, but soon I adjusted and with the help of the rest of the Street Hunters I managed to get in sync with the vibe of London! All in all I shot in the streets for 2 full days (Saturday and Sunday) and during that time I covered 30 km of walking distance that I managed to cover in a total of 18 hours. I didn’t break my Hamburg 22 hour record in 2 days, but still I felt like I burned off 1 week’s worth of calories!
So What Is This Post About?
In about 2-3 weeks we will be releasing the next Street Hunt video that will be from London. In the meantime though I wanted to share with you all the experiences of the 1st Annual Street Hunters Meeting as well as my shooting experiences from a city as large and as unique as London. A city full of beauty, people, colours, smells and crazy situations. One could walk through its streets every day and never be bored with the things they saw. So let’s get to it. I can’t wait to share with you all how the meeting went!
Day 1 – Family Day
On the first day I arrived and I met with the family I have in England. I was very pleased to see them again after 8 years. It is amazing how time flies by and in a blink of an eye 8 whole years just pass by without even noticing. I felt blessed meeting them again and realised how much I had missed them. It was as if we picked up exactly where we had left and that was smashing! So, the first day I did no Street Photography. Instead I made family portraits while enjoying beers and fish and chips with my family. What a lovely day!
Day 2 – Street Hunters Meeting Day
My day started very early in the morning. I had arranged to meet the rest of the Street Hunters at Waterloo train station at 09:00 am, so to make it on time and have a nice calm breakfast without feeling worried, I woke up at 06:45. Luckily for me, 06:45 felt just like 08:45 since in Greece the time is 2 hours ahead, so that was a piece of cake. So, after waking up I enjoyed my breakfast and went to the train station from where I got the train to Waterloo. During the train ride I was constantly messaging Anton Fortein our SHRC Moderator and organiser of the London Street Hunt. He updated me with the latest and I prepared for the meeting. At 08:50 am I arrived at Waterloo and headed to the designated meeting point. There I met Anton Fortein, Derren Hodson, Bill Wellham, Dan Berntsson, Gagan Sadana, Paul Griffiths, Martin U Waltz, John Hughes, Brian Boyce, Adrian Looby, David Smith, Marcello Perino, Barrie Duffield, Dave Nash, Benjamin Nwaneampeh, Adam from Poland, Jordi Mallol i Comas, Laurence Taylor, Brian Duffy, Treve Kneebone, Andy Wasley, Amanda Culley, Brian Duffy, Duncan Paterson and Richard Parmiter. I was ever so excited! All these awesome people came from all around the UK and Europe for the 1st Annual Street Hunters Meeting. I felt so happy!
So, we moved out of the station where it was quiet and started by giving away some gifts that were sent over to us by COSYSPEED. When the guys at COSYSPEED found out about the meeting, they felt they had to contribute with some gifts and for that we thank them very much! Four lucky Street Hunters left with prizes that day. Once that was taken care of we jumped into the game and started following the plan that Anton Fortein had prepared for us. Since we were quite a few, we split into two groups. One group took route number one and the other route number two. Both groups would meet in the middle at Aldwych for lunch. So, off we went and the 1st Annual Street Hunters meeting & London Street Hunt video begun!
I was in the group that headed towards South Bank. I was with at least half of the gang. I remember starting off the Street Hunt in awe of my surroundings and for at least 10 to 15 minutes I didn’t make a single shot. I was absorbing the scenery, getting accustomed to the size of London’s buildings and the width of its streets. I was used to shooting in the narrow streets of Rethymno so being in London with so much to photograph, made me feel confused to begin with. No matter though because it was very early in the morning and I still had all day ahead of me. I knew that at one point I would just zone in and start shooting! During the initial stages of this Street Hunt I got to know new friends and to discuss interesting Street Photography topics. Anton was leading the way following the plan and we were following closely behind. To cut a long story short, the first part of the walk was smooth. It was more of an adjustment walk. When facing the multiple stimuli of London one must learn to adapt in my opinion. So, for me at least, the first part of the walk, up until lunch time was adaptation.
We walked on Southbank, then Borough market, up the London bridge, stopped for a while at St. Paul’s Cathedral and headed towards the lunch meeting point at a pub in Aldwych. Unfortunately our pub (The Wellington) was full so we had to find another pub to eat. Luckily two doors down the Lyceum Pub was not as full and the lady in charge seemed to like us and she managed to accommodate us all in one part of the pub’s top floor. At this point some had left so we were no longer as many as before but others had joined. Newcomers were Mike Beecham, Luigi Caruso and Klaus Scherer. I think that we might have been around 18-20 of us at this point. Lunch was great! I really enjoyed myself. I got to talk with very interesting people and make new friends. So, after a course of bangers & mash and 3 delicious pints of Stout, we left the pub to start shooting again.
This time we would follow the other path Anton had planned for us. So we left Aldwych and headed up to Covent Garden. There, we went insane! I think it was the amount of people and the intense vibe we got from the place, but we all felt it and we started shooting non stop! Because we were still quite a large group of photographers, we decided to each take our own way and meet 40 minutes later outside of the Apple store. I took off with John Hughes and Klaus Scherer. I had put my flash on and I was ready for everything! Covent Garden was very exciting. I got to practise Flash Photography under normal circumstances (there was no party, no festival) and I saw that even though I was using my camera flash, I still got some positive reactions from people. It was amazing how the time flew by and before I knew it, 40 minutes were over and we had to head back to our meeting point. So, now I was back at the meeting point, waiting for the rest of the crew to join. Within the next 5 minutes everyone showed except Marcello whom with we hooked up again later.
Next stop China Town. That was another awesome place to shoot Street Photography. The characters, the decorations, the things going on in the streets were just so entertaining and exciting. I couldn’t stop shooting and my flash was going off every few seconds. What a place! At this point I was thinking to myself that it couldn’t possibly get any better, but we turned left to Leicester square and had even more fun there! Each one of us had his / her own pace. Some of us made pairs or walked in small groups. Others shot alone. John Hughes and myself hit Leicester square and had a blast! John was firing away with the passion of someone that was photographing for the first time and that inspired me to go crazy! So, more shooting followed, we went around Leicester square twice and by the time we got back to where we had started we saw the rest of the group approach. We joined them and moved on, we headed up Regent to Piccadilly, then we walked on Oxford street all the way to Oxford Circus and from there we headed down to Tottenham Court Rd station and then to Soho and back to China Town.
Once that was done, we headed back down to Covent Garden and Embankment. Group members were breaking off as we were moving along until only a few of us were left. Our final stop was Waterloo Train Station as planned and that is where most of us said their goodbyes. We recorded a small video there which will be included in the Street Hunt footage and then Anton Fortein, Luigi Caruso and myself headed out of the station to the pub down the road and had a last pint before I got my 20:30 train back to Farnborough. By this time my feet and my back were killing me and I needed to sit down in the train and reflect on the amazing day I had. I am so grateful to all the Street Hunters that attended the 1st Street Hunters Meeting in London. It was a huge success and I feel that I made new friends and learned new things. This was the best group Street Photography experience I have ever had in my life and I can’t wait for the 2nd Annual Meeting. We still don’t know where we will be having that, but we have already had many suggestions. Some of those are Barcelona, Rome, New York, Paris, Glasgow, Istanbul and Athens. One thing is for sure. No matter where the 2nd Annual Street Hunters Meeting is held it will be smashing!!!
Day 3 – Beer and Street Photography Day
It was now Sunday! The previous day I had walked for around 11 hours and had covered more than 19-20 km. But I was ready for more and I couldn’t wait to get back into town to meet my friends and shoot some more street. So, I met Dan Berntsson, a.k.a. The Viking and we moved out of Waterloo just like we did the previous day, towards the same direction. Because we met much later than the previous day (12:00 pm compared to 09:00 am) we noticed that life around that same area was more vibrant. The local market was busy and packed with people and we stopped there for a Breakfast Beer. That was a great beer I had to admit. It was dark and had a really nice aftertaste but I can’t remember the name.
Anyway, after staying there for a while we walked to Southbank, crossed Waterloo bridge and walked all the way up to Blackfriars Bridge. We crossed back over, walked down to the Founders Arms and there we had a long pit stop. During that pit stop we equipped our flashes and replenished ourselves with 2 pints of Stout. Having plenty of energy to continue, Dan and myself walked along the river towards the Millennium Bridge. We crossed it, visited St. Paul’s one more time and met up with Luigi Caruso. From there we headed back down the Millenium Bridge and took a nice long walk all the way to London Bridge. We ended up in the Bridge House pub to have some lunch and a few pints of beer! Our London Street Photography had come to an end. We enjoyed the rest of our time together talking about Street Photography, Cameras, Flash Photography and having some good laughs. What a day!
Shooting Street Photography in London is an amazing experience, especially if you live in a small town with only a few thousand people like me. The visual stimuli of the capital of Great Britain are countless and they can be confusing at times. To get a feel of the city, one has to walk it for a while without thinking of taking photos. One has to observe it. Feel its vibe, get its beat. Once that is achieved, then London becomes more easy to understand, more welcoming to the Street Photographer. You will see all this in the next Street Hunt #15 video that will be released in 2-3 weeks time.
But the 1st Annual Street Hunters Meeting wasn’t just about filming a Street Hunt in the streets of London. It was about meeting new people and making new friends. I am happy to say that by the end of my trip I had done just that! I feel so grateful that so many friends sacrificed time from their personal lives to come to London from various parts of the UK and Europe so we could all be together and share this wonderful thing we all know as Street Photography. It is true that shooting in groups might not be the easiest thing for a Street Photographer, but what we gained from our meeting was much more than photographs. It was new connections, new experiences and new friendships.
Stay Sharp & Keep Shooting!