Street, Sights, Social
A couple of years ago I found myself working in Central London for the first time in my career. And I don’t mean the boroughs around Central London, or further out into Greater London, or the suburbs of London pretending to be London. I mean right at the centre of London. Just off Oxford Circus. The very heart of the city, where Oxford Street and Regent Street converge like a giant ‘X marks the spot’. My commute to work allowed me to wander through the streets of Mayfair. My lunchtimes through Soho. My return home down through Piccadilly. I was just around the corner from the BBC.
It was from this very central location that I stumbled across street photography. I sort of fell into it, really, like you might bump into someone on a busy street.
But it wasn’t just the location that ignited this interest. It was my camera. Now I’m not one to champion gear over photographs, but this camera was special. Special because I forgot I had it in my hand most of the time. The FujiFilm X100T* is a little box of magic. It just gets out of the way and lets you get on with the business of taking photographs. That beautiful little camera went everywhere with me, and as I was always on the streets of London, those streets became my muse. Many muses in fact, with millions of people and opportunities all around.
I started posting my street and urban observations to Instagram; always in black and white, compelled by the seductive qualities of light and shadow. I set myself a challenge: To shoot and post a new photograph everyday, and to see how far I could take my account. My output was still broad at this point, with a tendency to sway into the further reaches of black and white photography. But I kept coming back to street.
It was through this experiment with Instagram that I started to chat with Brandon Wong, who was a great inspiration and motivation; always offering me insightful feedback and a dose of humour for good measure. It was Brandon who first made me aware of the community aspects of social media and we soon built up a regular rapport which continues today.
Back on the streets I bumped into Barima. I was on Haymarket, crouched in the dark (not as sinister as it sounds) shooting a bold window installation by night and willing passers-by to walk through my frame to complete the scene. Barima stopped short. Being British I thanked him of course. Professional courtesy, he said. Ah, I said. You’re a photographer? He was. I was actually trying to catch people walking through the frame, I said. Ah, he said. I know exactly what you mean. And from there we struck up a friendship. You’d like Sixstreetunder and Joshua K. Jackson, Barima suggested with a glint in his eye.
And I did. So much so that I took one of their London street photography workshops, and my addiction to street quickly became a passion. We’re in frequent conversation today. Josh and Craig are prolific photographers that never fail to inspire.
Brandon, Barima, Josh, and Craig played a big part in me pursuing my interest in photography, opening up a wider network of like-minded photographers and friends. With street photography I’d found my focus, and I was loving every minute of it. I built up an audience on social media who are passionate about the field, know their monochrome, and clearly share a love for London.
And then I left London.
While all of this was going on, I had been busy making plans to take a year out, a step back from the city to see more of the world. The two paths eventually converged. There was a moment of clarity when it all fell into place: Two passions, one stone. In April 2017 I set off on a journey across The Americas, to further my new obsession with photography and to further explore the world.
During my trip, I reached a dilemma. I was taking thousands of photographs, and not all of them were street. Many were in colour. Dozens were not my usual style at all. I visited numerous street photography Meccas; New York, New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles. But I was also hiking through National Parks, surrounded by natural beauty and abundant wildlife. I needed an outlet for my wider reaching interest in photography, but I didn’t want to muddy the focus of my passion for street.
At the halfway point—when I arrived in Colombia, my first contact with South America, confused and disorientated—I took some time out. I wanted a means to document this trip beyond the notes on my phone, and I wanted to scratch that itch of exploring a wider photographic portfolio. And so I created Photographer’s Note.
My background in design is all about visual communication: Storytelling. Photography is the purest form of those crafts, and Photographer’s Note felt like a natural progression. A picture tells a thousand words; but often there’s a story behind that picture. This was the philosophy I would base my website on.
Today, my Instagram account @harrywedmonds has over ten thousand followers. An audience who are more passionate about street than ever. My influences from the wider-reaching world of photography were beginning to confuse that feed and so I set about refining my output, regaining focus. I setup @photographersnote for, well, everything else that I love.
@photographersnote on Instagram is a place where I share a much broader range of content. Destinations, landscapes, wildlife, architecture… my all encompassing passion for photography. It’s aesthetically different, with borderless, full frame photographs. It offers bite-sized versions of the articles found here and ‘behind the scenes’ insights. It’s a collection of snapshots from a bigger tale. It’s perhaps a little more experimental and informal. It features subcategories of street that don’t quite fit in with my other feed. It’s my view on the world and the influences the world has on me. And, of course, it will always tell the stories behind my photographs.
The first gallery of images in this article (top) features my earliest street photography, all shot on the FujiFilm X100T*. The top right image was the photograph taken when I bumped into Barima.
The second gallery was captured using the FujiFilm X-T2, in the run up to the street photography workshop that I joined with Joshua K. Jackson and Craig Whitehead. The cabbie, I took during that session. My current street photography work can be seen on @harrywedmonds.
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