A series celebrating the talent of our friends over in the Londonist Flickr pool. Here, they introduce themselves and share their favourite London shots.
Hi, I'm Luke, a Yank who's been living in London for 10 years or so. Aside from an early hiatus, I have spent most of that 10 years shooting around this stupefyingly photogenic city. That early hiatus was due to a catastrophic burglary of all my old photo gear from a flat in Fulham, which proves that London can dish out pain in as equal doses as it distributes joy. It's the essential contradiction of a major, iconic city such as The Smoke, and it's what makes shooting around here so rewarding.
Ever since going all-digital - since around 2001 - and purchasing my first digital SLR in 2003, my photography has markedly increased in quantity, and I'd like to believe, in quality as well. I really only started to hit stride with the combination of that first D-SLR (a venerable Canon 300D) and a few local photographic courses as places like Photofusion in Brixton and at Central St Martin's in the West End. I really cannot urge budding photographers enough to invest in educating yourself, and a workshop course is one of the best ways to do that, especially if you can combine it with on-location photography around a city you love.
Somewhere back in the dim reaches of 2005 I discovered Flickr and immediately began broadening my horizons, participating in the photographic community there, and generally being humbled by the quality of the work on offer there. Around the same time I also contributed an article or two to Londonist, and it was a natural next step to create a Flickr group dedicated to the Londonist view of our fair city, its people, culture and life. Though I can't say I've had any hand in its success, I am very happy to see the group still going strong today.
Although I am technically competent with my equipment (many upgrades on from the 300D), and I can produce consistent results, I am still learning and taking courses, and I reckon in about another 10 years I might reach a point where I can call myself a true photographer, if I am lucky. Competency in exposure, focus and composition is one thing; artistic expression is quite another, and it's what we all strive for. And the only way to get there is practice, sheer bloody persistent practice. I try to always have a camera with me, and I try to go out with the express purpose of shooting at least once a week. If you are suffering a creative block, I find that unleashing yourself on the London streets after a couple of stiff drinks with a quality compact can result in sometimes refreshingly-different images that may inspire you to go in new directions stylistically (or at the very least, to revisit the sites with a tripod and a clear head).
Fortunately, London provides an excellent laboratory in which to experiment with your photography and challenge yourself to record and interpret the maelstrom of urban life: the changing of the seasons, the sheer joy of a summertime festival, the destitute and forgotten corners of the further-flung boroughs, the innumerable markets, the frenetic street life of the East End on a Sunday, the gleaming towers of the City, and for me, above all, I must always return to the mighty Thames and all that surrounds it; a tourist cliché it may be, but I defy anyone to walk across Hungerford Bridge on a clear day and not be moved by the sight of the river and the majestic skyline draped across every horizon.