I was taking photographs in the City the other day following a visit to the excellent London Nights exhibition at the Museum of London. Although I am at heart a street photographer, I do think the urban environment offers fantastic opportunities.
It is possible to walk from the Museum of London to Moorgate, and into the Barbican on elevated walkways. If there is good light this raised environment provides creative ways to play with the sunlight, that cuts majestically through the spaces between the buildings. A shard of light, or the interplay of light and dark, with people walking half in and out of shadow, are one of the techniques that urban photographers have played with since Henri Cartier-Bresson in the 1930’s.
Today the swathes of glass offer fantastic reflections. As the picture above illustrates. I had to wait for some time for that shot. Waiting for a figure to occupy that first third of the image.
As I stood pointing my camera at the window, a security guard tapped me on the shoulder and asked me what I was doing. As usual, because this happens to me quite frequently, I have a well rehearsed response. I was polite, I engaged in conversation and offered him my business card. A business card is essential for any street photographer, I have managed to escape without acrimony many times this way.
Later, as I thought about it. I tried to imagine what it must have been like for whoever was on the other side of this mirror faced glass window. Probably it was an important business meeting or business deal which could have reached a dramatic climax. Then looking up the city bankers saw me prone, camera in hand, pointing it forcibly in their direction.
In that situation, I admit I too would have been indignant and summoned security. After all, I know what it feels like, I was behind that mirror once.
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