London Street Photos (Part 1, Black and White)

It’s been a while… here are some new street portraits and street photographs from a sunny day in London. There is nothing like travelling to get the creative juices flowing. That, and decent weather, i.e. light. 

All images shot with a Fujifilm X-T20 camera and the 35mmR1.4 lens. Colour photographs to follow…


Faces of Morocco

I recently returned from a three week trip to Morocco, where I visited the towns of Marrakesh, Meknes, Fes, Casablanca and Ouarzazate. I had with me my trusted Fujifilm X-T10 camera, and came back, as usual, with a good many photos. I tend to take two kinds of photos when I do trips: street photography (including street portraits), and photos with which I hope to capture the essence of a city by focusing on details (see my earlier article “Colours and Textures” on this) and on architecture. I seldom take landscape photos, but in Morocco I visited the desert south of Ouarzazate, and also photographed the fascinating landscape there.

I have now gone through the street photos and made a selection which I put up on my site. The 40 images which I selected include both candid shots, and images of people whom I asked to pose. Morocco is not an easy country for street photography. Many people object to having their picture taken by strangers, some energetically so. I was told off a couple of times, and in one instance I saw a young man force a tourist delete a picture she had taken of him. My first instinct was to ask people’s permission. Some agreed to be photographed, but most did not. Some people I got into conversation with and they subsequently agreed to pose, happily so. But even photographing crowds was difficult. Women especially but also men (especially older ones) would turn their head or hide their faces behind a scarf or a hand if I only vaguely pointed the camera their way. In the end I often had to resort to the old trick of seeming to photograph random objects in the street and thereby capturing people who happened to be in the scene at the same time.

The set includes only two black and white photos, the rest are in colour. Colour is an important aspect of Morocco, and it was a joy to capture the country in all its colourful splendour – especially given how well Fujifilm cameras render colour. As I mentioned above, I used a Fujifilm X-T10, primarily with a 35mm lens, but also the 27mm pancake which came in very handy in the narrow alleyways of the medieval medinas.

I will be posting more of the other photos in the weeks to follow but to begin with, here is the link to the street photography set, Faces of Morocco. Enjoy.

My Year 2016 in Pictures

(Note: this is an updated version of a posting I put up on 26 December. Turns out that that was a bit premature for a full round-up of the year)

It’s that time of year again to look back and see what the year has been like. Like many out there, I feel that 2016 has been absolutely disastrous. It started with the death of David Bowie and just got worse. I thought it had reached its lowest point with the election of Donald Trump (a day I think the world will regret for a long time to come), but of course other low points followed: the atrocities committed in Aleppo, the terrorist attacks around the world, including the recent one here in Berlin.

With the world going crazy, in a negative sense, it became important for me to create a space where I connected with people – with new people. Photography allowed me to do that. It started with my intention to capture more portraits of the people around me, my friends; and then on to street portraits, i.e. portraits of strangers that I’d ask on the street. This curiosity also led me to get acquainted with street musicians here in Berlin, which in turn led me to hooking up with a larger circle of people who lead a free-spirited life outside what are deemed social norms. I called them the “Südstern gang”; Südstern being the square in Berlin where we’d meet on an almost daily basis during the late summer months and well into autumn. Describing these experiences (not all of them positive) warrants an article in itself, not one I’m ready to write just yet. Let’s just say for now that it allowed me to experience different life choices, witnessing both the freedoms and the problems that these choices bring with them. With the onset of bad weather, the group dispersed, but the experience resulted in two friendships, one good and one flawed (the flawed one marred by trying to cope with a drug addict, and all the negativity this entails).

On top of these Berlin based experiences, I also took a few trips. Initially just a few short ones, the highlights certainly being Bologna in March and Oslo in early May; however, I’m currently on a three week trip around Morocco, and two of the images taken on this trip conclude the selection, with one image actually having been taken today, on the last day of the year 2016.

Below then are a selection of image for each month, summarizing best what the month stood for. I picked solely people photos, portraits or street photographs, but they also reflect the place and the time of year they were taken in.

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All photos, except two, were taken using the two Fujifilm cameras, the X-T10 and the X-E2, which have definitely become my cameras of choice, especially the X-T10. Being small and unobtrusive, yet providing high quality images even in low light, they played an important part in my life this year.

Hard Truths

How far do you go in trying to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped? When do you reach the point where you say, enough is enough? How long do you keep watching someone whose every action is a step towards a long slow death, with the danger of a sudden quick death always lurking right behind the corner.

I don’t have answers. Faced with some hard truths, there exists the temptation to run. But a coward’s way is not a way out…

Jam Session

One of the perks of being friends with street musicians: you’re often treated to impromptu concerts and jam sessions. Here three members of the Illegal Boys, a Polish group performing around Berlin, rapper Kool Kasai and Malte on accordion got together for a little fun. Being utterly devoid of any musical talent, I’m always amazed how fast and without much of a prologue these guys manage to fuse their different styles into a coherent, convincing whole that makes people stop and listen. 

Camera: Fujifilm X-T10 with 35mm f1.4 lens.

Wearing Enigmas…

I have a distinct fondness for tattoos and when I saw this lady sitting in the doorstep of a tatto parlour in Berlin-Kreuzberg, I just had to ask if I could take her photo….

Wearing Enigmas. Camera: Fujifilm X-E2

Südstern continued…

As I keep hanging out around this particular subway station in Berlin, here are a couple more shots of the people who enjoy hanging out there as well….

Olga and Creed
Riscy (photo by Chris)

Meanwhile back at Südstern

Several of the musicians that ply their trade in Berlin’s subway system tend to hang out at the Südstern subway station, including rapper Chris aka Kool Kasai and didgeridoo player/ drummer Oliver aka QuasiMono of whom I posted a video the other day. Here are a few more pics from Saturday night.

Christina from Lithuania and Antonio from Italy, a couple who recently moved from London to Berlin and are currently caught in Germany’s intractable bureaucracy while trying to get registered, find a flat and find a job – all at the same time. Antonio is a chef and sings and plays the guitar in a gothic metal band. Christina used to run a gothic shop in Camden.

Oliver and his didgeridoo

Chris and a member of the Polish band Illegal Boys. On Saturday they were performing together on the U7 line, to great acclaim.

Oliver and Friedrich. Friedrich doesn’t play an instrument per say, but he keeps trying out the various instruments of the other performers, and it sounds promising…

Camera: Fujifilm X-E2 with 35mm1.4 lens.

Kool Kasai and Friends

Chris, who goes under the handle Kool Kasai, usually does freestyle rapping in Berlin’s subway trains. Sometimes he teams up with friends in order to jam. He had asked me to film him perform with Eleonora from Venezuela, who sings and plays the Quarto, and Oliver a.k.a QuasiMono, on drum. Here is the video:

I have seen Chris performing in the subway for something like 7 of 8 years, I think. He’s been hanging out close to where I live, and we got talking a few weeks ago, and been having a beer or two together every so often around one of the subway stations. He is one of the most interesting people you can meet around Berlin, talented and smart and with a life experience that belies his relative youth. He’s hoping to move on from subway rapping to more substantial gigs, hence this tryout with Eleonora and Oliver. His goal is to get a spot on a concert series that takes place in Berlin’s Hermannplatz every Thursday during the summer.

Oliver can usually be seen around Berlin playing the didgeridoo. He has produced and published a few tracks that mix the didgeridoo with electronics to great effect. Here they are on Soundcloud: .

I used the Fujifilm X-T10 to film the video; this is the first time I used the camera to shoot video and it shows in a couple of places….

Meanwhile, back at Hermannplatz (continued)…

I met these two gentlemen on Berlin’s Hermannplatz (one of my favourite hang-outs, as I wrote last week) on a recent Sunday morning. They were visiting Berlin and basically just hanging out. They were in the middle of discussing the meaning of life when I asked them to pose. One was reluctant, the other one wasn’t, but then they both did. I later emailed them the photos I took and they replied that “I had captured them spot-on.” Good 😊 

Camera: Fujifilm X-E2 / 27mm lens

More street portraits here