Anything that challenges you to do something differently is a good thing in the Dissemble Design book and the Fox and Squirrel Street Photography Walk did just that. The “guided” walk meets Saturdays outside Yumchaa on Parkway in trendy Camden. From there our fantastic host, Stu, ushers us along to Camden Road where chaos is epitomised as Stu chats casually amidst a tourist/drum and base/student backdrop of activity. And it’s awesome. I liked Stu immediately, he was well coiffed and lived on a houseboat and in my world, that is just plain fantastic. I often imagine designing the interior of a floating home and in my Hackney “property, property, property” bubble I might have to… I digress.
Our location, Stu later explained, was a perfect one because of the perpetual bustle of liveliness. Folk weren’t really concerned with our group of photography walkers so we could get a lot of images. And that’s how the walk nudges you to explore something different. And yes, it is uncomfortable. But I left at the end feeling like I had genuinely learnt something.
Our first task was a warm up. As we stretched and flexed our image picking muscles, we were each allotted a colour and as I prayed for yellow, I was told “green!” And with that we had twenty minutes, on Camden Road, to snap images of everything in our assigned colour way. I had been expecting something else. I can’t quite pinpoint what but enjoyed having time on my own take a multitude of photos without any pressure. As I meandered up the road, I learnt my first hard lesson. I felt weird taking pictures. Sure, folk were, mostly, oblivious to me but I put up my own awkward barriers and quickly became horrified that my whole demeanour was lacking some obligatory bravado. I tried taking “good” pictures but failed at every turning. Halfway along the high street, after a particularly testing experience with a stall holder’s hilarious joke, I ran into Stu who looked through my camera’s offerings and made positive noises (as all good teachers do) and then told me to take photos of people. People? Really? Photos of people in green, standing against something green…? Roll on second lesson. I hate taking pictures of people. I mean… they move! Plus, in Camden, at that point, I wasn’t being asked to take photos of loved ones, I was being asked to take photos of strangers and that was akin to committing a crime and waaaayyy out of my comfort zone. But, you guessed it, it forced me to redefine those barriers and while I don’t think I managed to capture any truly memorable images, I definitely had warmed up and that warm up set the tone for the entire session. And I loved it.
After said warm up, the walk was easy. Well, easier. Each pitstop produced a new challenge and one that forced us to reconsider how we viewed things. Our group mingled and we were, I think, constantly reminded to view things in a fresher way. More than that, though, we were given confidence, insight and a good dose of healthy exercise. A must for anyone with an interest in London and how it can be perceived through images.
And my pictures (after the green warm up activity!!!)? I hope the results speak for themselves. I amassed quite a few and have included my favourites.
Thanks Fox and Squirrel for a truly unforgettable afternoon.