Imperial Lambeth to Heddon-istic Ziggy

On a rare day off work, I decided to spend time exploring London by foot, starting with the Imperial War Museum. Friends had often recommended the museum as a place worth visiting so I thought it was about time I went to see what all the fuss was about.

The building itself is grand and inspiring. It is noticeably different from the terraced townhouses which surround it, with it’s copper domed roof and the tell-tale cannons grounded by the entrance. The Shard, close to completion, pierces through trees in the distance and glimmers in the sunlight.

Although I wasn’t with any friends, I spent a good hour and a half walking around the museum, taking photos as I went and spending time just observing the incredible machinery on display. I am amazed by the design and engineering behind weapons of war. I have friends who are currently serving in the armed forces and to think of them at the wheel/control panel of one of these vehicles fills me with equal measures of pride and fear.

The museum is a fantastic day out for the whole family; there are lots of hands on exhibitions for everyone to get involved with. While you walk through the exhibitions you cannot help but imagine the fear, the courage, the commradery soldiers throughout the ages have felt whilst at war. It’s a strange feeling, but one I’m glad I have felt.

Walking away from the museum towards Kennington high street, I spotted a townhouse with a blue door and matching blue plaque, which as you can see from the photo below belongs to William Bligh, commander of The Bounty.

My photo-walk continued to Victoria, where I came across some unusual architecture near Channel 4 Headquarters on Horseferry road. Outside the front of the building stands an enormous sculpture, made of different parts of metal, each coming together at a certain angle to form the iconic 4 – just like the infamous idents.

Victoria is a great area to walk around and photograph, with its mix of old townhouses and new office buildings. The Feathers, a pub in the Nicholson chain, is particularly interesting and reminded me of the old brownstone buildings in New York city which are surrounded by modern buildings. I love the mix of old and new with architecture: it gives you a sense of history and I admire both very different styles equally.

On I walked and eventually I arrived at Hyde Park, one of my favourite spots in London. Sometimes I feel as though all my weekends and photo walks revolve around this famous park, but can you blame me?! I took a few gorgeous shots of cherry blossom, people enjoying the sunshine on the boating lake and horse riders parading through the park in unison.

From Hyde Park corner, and now with a very tender shoulder and toned calves from all the walking, I headed up to Picadilly in search of a particular plaque. Not blue in colour this time, but black, and placed in an iconic street just off Regent’s street. The plaque in question comemmorates the legendary glam rock chameleon, Ziggy Stardust and in particular where a photo was taken for the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars, taken by Brian Ward in 1972. The album has become one of the most iconic in modern music and the plaque celebrates David Bowie as one of the UK’s most influential artist of recent times.

As I stood in the very spot Ward stood in 40 years ago, I tried to imagine the motivation behind the shoot and the mood ‘on set’. I’m pretty sure Ward and Bowie had no idea at the time how influential the image would be in months, years and decades to come.

Brighton rocks!

It’s easy to feel a little clostrophobic living and working in the city; every now and then you need a break – be it a trip back home (Sheffield, Glasgow or Hertfordshire for me) or a weekend away to a new city. The latter of the two being something I did recently when I spent a weekend in Brighton with two of my friends from university. We decided that it had been far too long since we’d seen each other so a reunion was on the cards, and we chose to combine this with a visit to the seaside resort of Brighton as we had never visited before.

So on a weekend (after a weekend full of glorious sunshine), we made our way (Sarah from Cardiff; Laura from Oxford) down to Brighton and checked into our B&B for the stay – The Beach Pad. The first evening was spent ‘sussing out’ the local area and trying to find a) a nice restaurant to eat in, and b) a good cocktail bar. We stumbled across a meze restaurant just a few streets away from our hotel, and quicker than you can say lamb shisha we were enjoying halloumi, humous and pita with a nice dry Turkish white wine. After dinner we wandered to Above Audio, where we drank a few cocktails and caught up on each other’s news in the ambience of chilled house music.

We spent most of the next day as obvious tourists, wandering from street to street with our cameras and the standard ‘Oh isn’t this so lovely’ catchphrase. My favourite stops were Cafe Nero for the skinny chai tea latte (and hazelnut wafer biscuits), the pier for its reto amusement arcades and charm, and the clothes shops and cafe’s around Tichborne street and Gardner street. We bought far too much, ate far too well and drank, well, quite a lot that evening. Needless to say I left my canon DSLR at the hotel that evening, but dusted it off again the next morning to take photos of the Brighton Marathon. Although the weather wasn’t fantastic I still managed to get some lovely shots.

There are some cities you visit that leave you cold, some lukewarm and some red hot. Brighton left me feeling very warm indeed. It’s definitely a city that I could see myself living in one day. But right now? No, that’s definitely a job for London.

In all Her Majesty

I’ve always been fascinated by Queen Elizabeth II. On the one hand she is the epitome of British steely determination, of Royalty (those Tsar/Queen Victoria-like eyes give it away!) and of duty – duty to our country over and above her personal wants and needs. On the other hand, over her 60 year reign, she has brought new life to a somewhat distant and unwelcoming monarchy with her charming smile, her meet and greets (something her Great-Great Grandmother, Queen Victoria, would never have been seen doing) and her intimate photography portraits.

On a recent visit to the V&A, I wandered through the Cecil Beaton exhibition showcasing some images of Queen Elizabeth II in honour of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations this year. The images are as fascinating as the subject. Some show Her Majesty in full ceremonial attire, such as the photograph taken just after the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, while others give us a rare and intimate view into her life as a mother.
Here are my favourites:

Queen Elizabeth II during part of the Order of the Garter ceremony
1968
Cecil Beaton

Princess Elizabeth as Colonel of the Grenadier Guards
October 1942
Cecil Beaton

Princess Elizabeth looking like a fairytale Princess
1945
Cecil Beaton

Another image of The Queen taken on the day of the Order of the Garter ceremony
1968
Cecil Beaton

A maternal instinct: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew
1960
Cecil Beaton

A collection of images from the 1942 photo shoot
King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret
1942
Cecil Beaton

One of the most iconic images of the twentieth century: Queen Elizabeth II on her coronation day
2 June 1953
Cecil Beaton

What’s your favourite season?

My favourite season to photograph has to be Spring. Flowers begin to bloom, bringing with them a vivid colour palette to the landscape (desperately needed after a bitter winter), wildlife bring energy and new life (even to the urban sprawls of London!) and the sun seems to shine brighter, raising the temperature and bringing more people out into parks and public places – great subjects to photograph.

I spent Sunday walking around central London in the sunshine, taking pictures of things that caught my eye as I walked. I walked through Hyde Park, along Oxford Street, through Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square and Covent Garden, all the way back to Green Park and Buckingham Palace, where I basked in the sun’s rays for a good 20 minutes (a glass of Pimms would have been perfection!) and finally down through St James’s Park, along Embankment, over the Blackfriars Bridge and along to London Bridge.

Here are some of my favourites from the day!

 

 

 

Street snaps

Five years ago, at the tender age of 21, I began a love affair. No, this isn’t an ode to Mills and Boon, rather a tribute to the form of photography that captured my interest – that of street photography, and more specifically, style blogging. For years now I have been following a few fantastic blogs (Copenhagen Street Style, The Sartorialist and The Style Scout) that essentially ‘people watch’ for you. Everyone loves to ‘people watch’, don’t they? I know I do. I like nothing better than sitting still in a public place watching the world go by and with it interesting characters coming and going. I’d often try and work out their story from the way they were dressed, who they were with or what they were saying. And so the idea of taking photographs of ‘people’ in public places and posting them online for the world to see really is inspirational. But not only that, it’s a way of capturing a moment in time in digital form and documenting our perception of the images from the comments we post on the blog. It’s a sort of time capsule for future generations. A way for them to really know what we were thinking at this very moment.

Scott Schuman – the man behind The Sartorialist – puts it far more eloquently than I ever could in this beautifully filmed short documentary for Intel Visual Life. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did (and still do!)

They don’t make ‘em like they used to

It was the year JFK was shot dead in Dallas, Texas. It was also the year Martin Luther King had his ‘dream’. For better and for worse 1963 was a year like no other – a time when ‘real men’ drank scotch, smoked and womanised (think Don Draper from Mad Men) and women were beginning to realise that they could have a career as well as being a ‘housewife’.

So hopefully I’ve set the scene for the images I’m about to share with you. But wait…I’ve forgotten to tell you the most important part! Know Steve McQueen? No? Well, you’re obviously not hot on your American film stars. Steve McQueen was the ‘King of cool’ in the 60s – on this side of the Atlantic too! He starred in great, classic films, like Bullit and The Great Escape and became the highest paid actor of that time. “But what does this have to do with photography Lynz?” I hear you ask. Well, I was browsing the Daily Mail this morning when I came across some images that I loved so much I just had to download them and share them with you. I now have a fully fledged crush on McQueen (Sorry Gary Oldman – I do still love you but I’m not IN love with you right now!)

Taken in 1963 for a Life Magazine photo shoot by John Dominis, this series of shots of McQueen at home and at the gym give us an intimate view of the star’s life and relationship with his first wife, Neile Adams. The photographs, aside from portraying McQueen as romantic, butch and and stylish (not sure I know of anyone alive today that pulls all three off with aplomb today) showcase the stylish interior decorations of the time. The sofa, the stool the vinyl record player – all beautifully designed objects that a lot of people pay a lot of money for these days.

My favourite shot has to be McQueen sitting on a sofa, decked out in white Vans and sunglasses, aiming a revolver at a wall. It’s the angles, it’s the b&w but it also sums up McQueen perfectly – the King of cool indeed.