Capturing Real People

Last weekend I went to Mile End in the heart of the East end of London to take black and white photos of the people there, living their everyday lives around the Roman Road market. Photography has been an amateur passion of mine since I ventured off from sunny Bournemouth around the World for a few months in 2012. I always loved taking photographs – for me it was more about capturing a moment and being able to look back on that at a later stage in life. Literally the ability to keep memories alive. When travelling I quickly learnt that taking photos was more than just a visual aid to accompany our stories of famous places or sites, it was about capturing cultures. What I mean by this is taking photos of a grand, famous site it one thing but capturing people just living is something I learnt would become very special to me. The more we explored the World and saw different cultures the more I wanted to remember what I was seeing. I wanted to take that persons everyday chore, or task and see it all the time without having to move to that place. 

For example, this woman in Croatia who wouldn’t sell me just 1 chilli and some garlic. She forced 3 or 4 in my hand – not to make more money but maybe to her, 1 chilli is just not enough. Her tightlipped expression reminds me of how furious she was. 


Or this chap, fast asleep in one of the busiest markets in Shanghai. You can’t make this stuff up! 


The project set out this past weekend has reignited that passion. I only asked 2 people to have their picture “taken” other wise I snapped away at whatever people were doing. Roman road and the East end of London have some real characters so I couldn’t wait to snap them. 

The market is not a tourist trap unlike some in London so taking their photograph has to come with permission or some somewhat stealth snapping. Most people were happy to be photographed and as a group we took some cracking shots. 

Here’s my favourite photography I took – taken with a Canon EOS 550D, EF-S 18-55mm lens (f/3.5-5.6 IS II), ISO set to 6400 and the colour set to Sepia. 


This next photograph was not staged – I overheard a roar of a laugh coming from the girl in the middle and instantly snapped. What a bunch of characters here.

Taken with a Canon EOS 550D, EF-S 18-55mm lens (f/3.5-5.6 IS II), ISO set to 6400 and the colour set to Monochrome. 


Here’s some shoppers perusing a fresh fruit and vegetable stall – ironically just outside of an Iceland. Being such a foodie I loved this irony!


Roman road is a very down to earth market – with some real bargains to be had. I have no idea if their claims are real but you can pick up some great clothes for, what it seemed on average, £5! Endless racks of garments are on offer – I’d recommend visiting this market at least once just to see what they have. And like most businesses these days, some even promote their facebook pages…!


The group of photographers I went with that day caught some cracking shots, this one, below, in particular made me smile. I wanted to photograph this man from the second I saw his stall. The only fish stall in sight! Surrounded by clothes, jewellery, scarves he stood out for sure. I didn’t manage to capture him myself – the stall was always so packed I couldn’t quite get in to grab his smile on camera. The happiest man on Roman Road that day was not an understatement, and according to his photographer, “He had no idea what any of the fish were. He just knew they were “fish”.”


Different cultures for me, are equally as amazing as the grandest of grand buildings. Seeing emotions and expressions of people just living is something you can’t predict, or pose. So whilst my photographs have some simple images of me at the *insert famous site name* I also have some incredible memories of the simplest activities and people living their day to day lives.

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