Meddling with Medium Format

One of my resolutions for 2014 was actually begun at the end of last year.

For years and years, I’ve lusted after medium format cameras. There’s something so alluring and charming about the boxy, heavy form of a Hasselblad or a Mamiya, all kitted out with its lens, film back, and viewfinder. If I had stayed on my photography course (which I did a year of before coming to Greenwich), I’m sure that not only would I have been able to hone my skills on analogue medium formats, but eventually got my hands on the holy grail of cameras: digital medium format cameras.

But for the past year and a half since leaving the course, I’ve filled my room with cute old cameras from market tables all over London: a simple Kodak Brownie, little more than a box; a dust-ridden Contax that is in need of a clean before I ever use it; a Diana Mini and a Diana F+; and a Pentax that I use every so often with 35 mm film. Despite all my “toys”, though, I still cast longing glances at the imposing-looking Mamiya and Hasselblad systems in the windows of camera shops each and every time I passed. Well… I admit, I may have gone in and asked to see them from time to time, comparing them, feeding the obsession.

The Painted Hall, Greenwich

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Wow, 2014. I feel like this year has really snuck up on me.

For one, I’ve been entirely too lax about posting in the last month of 2013. It wasn’t for lack of doing things – perhaps more for a lack of motivation. Once more the constant battle between balancing university life and an increasingly busy photography business tipped more in favour of university as the end of the semester drew near. When you have an essay due that’s worth 25% of your grade for a class (in two classes), everything else becomes a bit less important. Not that I’m complaining about being busy with business as well as university. I am very happy – but sometimes I worry about that fact that I have decided to pursue my business as much as a I have while still being in university. When the time is right, it’s right, though; I can’t just put a halt to things now or else I’ll have to start from scratch when I graduate, which is just not really acceptable in my mind. View Post

The Mince Pie Project

The Mince Pie Project is returning for its third year with an exciting new line-up of chefs, a delicious array of one-off mince pies, and two wonderful new charities (Foodcycle and Kids Company) that will be benefiting from their efforts. Foodcycle seeks to use some of the 400,000 tonnes of edible food that is wasted in the UK each year. Using volunteers, spare kitchens, and surplus food that is donated, Foodcycle brings nutritious, fresh meals to people at risk of food poverty and social isolation. Since their inception in 2009, they’ve served over 80,000 meals to people in need. Kids Company provides practical, emotional, and educational support to 36,000 vulnerable kids in London. With their four centres, outreach work, and services in 46 schools, they seek to support kids who face challenges in their family homes and neighbourhoods.

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The Ape and Bird

If I told you that a new pub was being opened by a highly successful restauranteur, one of the last places you would think of it being is Cambridge Circus. Straddling the border between touristy Covent Garden/Leicester Square and the dining goldmine of Soho, it sits unused and unloved except by Pizza Hut and Leon de Bruxelles. For months and months the former site of the Marquis of Granby, the pub that once graced the circus, sat empty; I’m sure people wondered which brightly lit chain with tourist-friendly express menus might take over the site next.

Most people I follow on Twitter, who have a better pulse on the restaurant openings than I do, probably knew a while ago about the impending opening of Russell Norman’s new venture. His other restaurants, Polpo (“a Venetian bacaro in Soho“), Spuntino (“London’s best Brooklyn diner“), and Mishkin’s (“a kind of Jewish deli with cocktails“), all probably have a pile of press clippings a few feet high, showering them with praise. Despite this, I’ve never been to any of them yet. I know! Horrible. Please don’t close this tab in disgust. Luckily for me, Wilkes secured a spot for lunch on the first of their two soft launch days and invited me along.

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Music Monday: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes

This week’s Music Monday is a throwback to the long days of summer (remember those?) when Somerset House was putting on their Summer Series concerts. I was excited over almost every name on the list: Alex Clare, Goldfrapp, Band of Horses, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Of Monsters and Men, Jessie Ware, and more. Though I tried to get on the press list for as many as I could, I only got a pass to shoot Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes for The 405.

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Secret St. Paul’s

You shouldn’t be looking at this photo. But it’s not your fault – it’s mine. Photography isn’t really allowed within St. Paul’s Cathedral, but the day that I visited I was on a bit of an unexpected mission. I felt very “007”, with my camera slung around my neck, held discreetly at waist-level, snapping the occasional photo. It made me nervous not to be able to frame my shots, but it wasn’t really important at the time anyways. I just wanted to be able to show my dad the inside of St. Paul’s – one of the beautiful, historic buildings he had traveled thousands of miles hoping to visit, only to be stopped at the door.

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A Very Civilized Breakfast

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, then you might have noticed that Dishoom is fast becoming one of my favourite haunts in London. I’m not sure why it took me so long to make it to the restaurant for breakfast. I’ve heard tales of their legendary breakfast rolls for a long time, seen many a filtered photo of them and drooled over the lightly toasted, soft bread embracing a few rashers of tantalizingly crisped bacon. Once I had a taste of it for myself, there was no going back. And by that I mean no going back to a life before the bacon naan cravings – because once you taste it, you will most certainly be going back to Dishoom.

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Back in July, I went to Heaven to photograph These New Puritans, supported by East India Youth. It was my first time photographing at Heaven, and unfortunately for us photographers, there was no pit present. We were cast into the mercy of the crowd, made to stake our claim to spots early in the gig and endure nasty looks throughout the first three songs as we clicked away. In addition to this, the stage was quite high, which meant shooting up into the sensor-busting LED lights. For every photo that turned out well, there were entirely too many with unsalvageable histograms. But, this also made for the opportunity to get some great, “moody” shots, given that you were in the right spot at the right time. View Post

Birthdays All Around

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably can tell that I have a bit of a soft spot for KERB, the street food collective that resides at King’s Cross, University College London, and (as of today) Maida Vale. I love visiting their markets, trawling their stalls for delicious food, and photographing the vibrant and exciting events they put on. But it goes a little deeper than that, and you’ll have to pardon me for getting a bit sappy and misty-eyed. You see, last Friday, KERB celebrated its first birthday – October 4th, 2012 marked the transition of the organization formerly known as Eat St. into the street food collective we currently know and love. This website also celebrated a birthday of sorts: it marked the beginning of A Southern Belle in London. View Post

National Cinnamon Bun Day

It’s National Cinnamon Bun Day! Well, at least it is in Sweden. If there’s one item that has come to symbolize Swedish food culture better than anything else, it has to be the beautifully braided kanelbullar, oozing with cinnamon, sugar, and butter, topped with a delicate sprinkling of pearl sugar. The canny staff at the Hembakningsrådet (Home Baking Council) decided back in 1999 that establishing Kanelbullensdag would be a great way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their founding.

Since it’s founding, National Cinnamon Bun Day has come to be a bit more of a pan-Scandinavian food celebration, but it’s still just as delicious – the more kinds of bun, the better! If you’d like to celebrate Sweden and Scandinavia’s tastiest holiday here in London, I’ve gathered some of the best places to have a fika and a delicious, sticky bun. View Post