Reason for the trip
Recently I’d been feeling quite down and uninspired with my photography, I’d developed roll after roll of rubbish and was just a bit fed up with it all. I think the main reason for this is that a few months ago I finished a contract in Canary Wharf and started a new one in a small town outside of London and street photography opportunities have been limited. Every lunch time I go out with my camera, just as I did in London but invariably go back to the office without even releasing the shutter. I was telling my wife about it a couple of weeks ago and she suggested that I have a day in London on the Saturday as the kids were at a friends Birthday party anyway.
On the Saturday morning I had breakfast in a local cafe with my wife, to fuel me up for the day ahead. When we got there some friends of ours were already there, I told them what I had planned for the day and my friend said “You know Pride is on today?”. No I didn’t, I had no idea, it not being something I particularly keep up with. I’ve never been to a Pride event before, not for any reason other than it not really being aimed at my demographic. Obviously I fully support LGBT rights, not actively I suppose, I’ve never been on a march or anything, but in spirit I do. I had originally planned to have a look around Shoreditch as I’d heard and briefly seen that it would be a good place for a spot of street photography. That changed when I heard Pride was on, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity for photography.
Normally when I go out to do some photography I take my Think Tank Retrospective bag a selection of cameras, lenses and other bits and pieces that weigh a ton. This time however I decided to leave the bag at home and just take my Leica M6 TTL, Voigtlander 35mm f2.5, Weston Euromaster lightmeter and a Japan Camera Hunter half case filled with film.
Heading out to my first Pride
I got the train into London Victoria, then the tube to Green Park and then walked to Regent Street. I got there about 13:30, I think the parade started at 13:00 and the streets were lined with thousands of people. As soon as I got there I knew it was going to be a good day, there was a great atmosphere, with young, old, gay and straight together for a good time.
I couldn’t see much of the parade as it was so busy, most of my photos of it are shot either over the top or around other peoples heads. I’ve read somewhere that when going to events such as this you should turn around and look to the edges of the crowd for more interesting street photos, so this is what I did. I don’t have many images of the parade itself as I decided to concentrate on the crowd instead. My camera was already loaded with a half exposed roll of Kodak Tri-x which I blew through in a matter of minutes. This is when I realised I’d made a mistake, my film case was mostly filled with black and white film and a day like this called for colour film. I had 2 rolls of Portra 400 with me, but I knew this wouldn’t be enough for a whole days shooting. I loaded a roll of Portra into the camera and continued to photograph the crowd aware that the film wouldn’t last long. I’d read on the Pride in London website that there were stages for music setup in the streets of Soho and I knew Calumet had a shop that sold film in Wardour Street, so after shooting a roll and a half in Regent Street I headed for Soho.
I found Calumet and purchased 5 rolls of Portra 400 from them at what I think is one of the cheapest prices around for Portra. With my pockets filled with film I headed back out into Soho, where in my opinion the party was really happening and where I spent the next 3 or 4 hours.
There was a great party atmospherein Soho especially along Old Compton Street, with music playing from the bars and people dancing in the street. Everywhere I looked there was someone interesting to photograph and nobody seemed to mind, I think this gave me the confidence to get closer than I normally would. I’m still trying to get over the uncomfortable feeling of taking a strangers picture up close, but this experience has helped a lot.
I spent the rest of the day in Soho, leaving for home about 7pm, I would have stayed longer but I had to get home. All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable day, I might even go to Brighton Pride in August too. The photos I took during the day may not be the greatest street photos ever taken but, at least I have a few from the day that I like. I took more pictures that I liked in that one day than in the last 3 months combined.
All images were shot with a Leica M6 TTL and Voigtlander 35mm Color Skopar f2.5 loaded with Kodak Portra 400@1600. The film was processed by AG Photolab and scanned by me with the Epson V550. Click here for the full gallery.