Welcome to the next instalment of a walk with. It means I have met up with someone and had a good time, so here we go!
Occasionally there are times when amazing chances come your way. This seems to be the case with my photography anyway – is it the same for you? I always think they are so rare that I try to seize the opportunities.
In the case of this article Louis Rodiger (Lu) got in touch to say he was in London for a few nights! For those who don’t know he’s a great fashion/music shooter based in Tijuana on the border of Mexico/California. Lu appeared on my podcast back on show 80.
Naturally it’s always great to see friends but when they are from another country, you have to make it happen. To make full use of the day I arranged to meant another friend and ex-guest Kevin Percival while in London. Kevin appeared back in January 2021 and worked at the London Science Museum. We wanted to try and see an exhibition but because of Covid sanctions, places were limited and already booked up.
So alas we made some very rough arrangements to meet up and I packed a small bag and my trusty Bronica.
The meet up
Because I was travelling down to London by myself, I made the decision to go on train for ease. I’m actually very inexperienced with my knowledge of London and getting around, as I’ve only been once. Louis had actually far more experience than me!
The timing of Lu’s visit was really good for my health to be honest. I had been struggling at that point with a little anxiety and one of the best remedies in my case is to do something new. However, the downsides are making arrangements and relying on public transport. But after careful planning, the train would faster,easier and less stress (hopefully).
But as part of my progress I like to record these events though, from snaps on my phone to decent shots on film. They all aide my poor memory and provide something for me to blog about the occasion.
Arriving on train was a really good choice, this allowed me to get on the subway and arrive close to Lu. I thought it was only fair to make it easier for him, since he’s the visitor in the UK. After being stood in St Pancreas and looking around the infamous ceiling I worked out a route for the subway.
I headed over to Vauxhall as I remember the MI5 building from so many films. It was really nice to see some of this important architecture in person and with decent light too! Obviously Lu had brought the lovely blue sky with him, as the light was amazing. I used this time and position of the sun to capture this beautiful building on both black and white film (Ilford Pan 50) and my mobile.
We had no real plan, I was only concerned about meeting a friend. But I performed a cursory look on the 3d layout on Google maps around the Vauxhall area. So I suggested looking along the riverside so we could see the buildings around Vauxhall. After heading over towards the US Embassy I was really impressed with the unusual design, so took a shot. The attached (mobile) image shows a hand made print I made after developing the negatives at home.
There was some great visual treats for us architecture fans – high rise structures that I managed to get some prints of (see image). But after playing with these images I came up with alternative darkroom ideas. One of them was to adjust the focal plane of the paper and the other was to try a mirrored image. I have attached one example for you here, the other will appear in a future darkroom article.
It was actually such a nice day we enjoyed walking along the Thames, luckily we were also joined by Lu’s partner Ana. For me it was such a treat to talk to people from such a different world. As you can imagine, Tijuana is a complex place and is not without crime. I’m always impressed by people like Lu and Ana who can talk multiple languages too.
They are both such lovely people, we enjoyed discussing the world of film photography, music and magazines. Lu has an absolute passion for music and visited the UK to work with bands too.
After walking along the embankment we headed towards the Houses of Parliament and across Westminster bridge. Ana immediately picked up on the shadows on the floor coming through the design. It was nice to see we all have a sense of fun no matter where we are from.
We finished our walk towards the famous landmark, like many tourists. It’s nice to see the statues and design work of yesteryear.
As we rested our legs in St James Park, we discussed the world and they kindly posed for a few shots (all shot on Bronica with 75mm kit lens). I’m sure you will agree they came out quick well, but its easy when you have great people ot work with.
After communicating with Kevin, he agreed to meet me in the park so just had to watch out for a cyclist. Maybe I should have had a sign with my name on it?
With the light fading we agreed to stop for a drink and sit in the park. We discussed some of the recent media coverage of the London Science Museum. For those who don’t know about the reason – it’s due to the unusual sponsorship of an oil company for an exhibition the climate (more info here). Luckily Kevin had just announced he was leaving to join the British Museum anyway. So that would also give me another reason to come back and check it out!
Kevin is just another down to earth person and it’s nice to just meet in person and chat. We’ve all become slaves to technology and video conferencing but its just not the same.
Overall I had an amazing day, meeting 2 friends and seeing some new places. Travelling to London and getting around has certainly provided me with the confidence for the future.
To some of you this may not seem brave, but I’m a simple man with a very limited budget. Being as cautious as possible during this COVID has not been easy. Even this journey was not without concern, especially on the tube during the day. Most of us were just pushed against each other as more and more tried getting on the carriage.
I just did my best and kept thinking of my friends. Then leaving Kevin provided me with the easiest route only to find we were all marched out the station for some emergency. That never helps your anxiety so I just walked away and took a different route.
Another important element was realising how much time I would need to shoot the landscape. Seeing all the glass in the prime of the day, glistening away was distracting. Hopefully I can get back and expand my architecture project further? I know I had fun shooting black & white too, because the prints were great. Even the 35mm negatives are stunning so watch out for future articles about this in more detail.
What I keep learning is that time and distance don’t matter, underneath we are all the same. I hope one day I visit further a field myself, travel the globe and meet you all. Maybe I should create a Kickstarter or a go fund me?
Kevin Percival Instagram