London Views

I’ve been photographing in London since the 1970s, and for the first 35 years or so my main focus was on the built environment in one way or another. I did photograph people as well, but mainly, at least in the early years, they were people that I knew. There were reasons why this was so, in part personal but also because of considerable pressure in some photographic circles at the time which trumpeted the vital need to ask permission of subjects before photographing them.

It was never an argument that entirely convinced me, although there are certainly circumstances in which permission is essential, in particular where people have a real expectation of privacy. But when it comes to behaviour in public, people have chosen to make themselves available to the public gaze, and so long as our photography reflects that public view can have little cause for objection should we photograph them. People don’t have rights to their appearance as such, though I am worried by photographers who wilfully misrepresent the people they photograph, as some have made a career of doing. But my worries in this are more to do with being human than with being a photographer.

While the very first web site that I put on line in 1995 was pictures of people, these were pictures made of my family and friends – a web site that with images rescanned at a larger size in 1996 (but not to now current standards) and some minor more recent updating of the html code remains on line – it was soon followed by another site entitled ‘The Buildings of London‘, also still on-line with some necessary updating of coding. It still works, though it looks very primitive now.

Both sites are now a part of a wider site, London Photos, which acts a front end to most of my work on the web – with links to a number of projects over the years, including a few I’d forgotten about until I started writing this post. I initially wrote this as an example for a simple web design course that I taught for a few years around 2000, to show how with a little thought about Search Engine Optimisation you could – at that time – get your site into the top five on Google on relevant searches; but Google has changed and there are far more web sites and that no longer works, though it still does pretty well. There is also a web site which has been in preparation for a while but is still in a primitive form for the books (and e-books) on London that I’ve self-published – so far the only real part of it on-line is for London Dérives.

The Buildings of London was intended to become an index to my work on London, but the labour of updating it and expanding to more than a very small proportion of the roughly a hundred thousand images in my collection at the time proved impossible and I very quickly abandoned the idea – with less than a hundred images on line. It became just a small sample of my collection.

My elder son (who does web sites and other on-line stuff for a living) provided a possible solution to putting larger collections of images on-line as my birthday present in 1999, as a replacement for a site I had begun to write called ‘London’s Industrial Heritage‘. This used Perl to automate the production of the site from a folder full of images and a simple database file. His design was fast, clean and impressive and allowed searches by area, on keywords and on a simplified hierarchy loosely based on the draft IRIS (Index Record for Industrial Sites) Class list, though it did mystify a few users who couldn’t work out how to enter the site. I’m still surprised by it each time I look, though I’ve never got around to adding more than the 225 images I had put on by 2002, though I think it could handle far more.

In 2002 I began the serious switch to digital and began to put my work on a new site, My London Diary. It began as a site that was very much a personal diary, somewhere to put my pictures and thoughts, and while it still does that, it has become very much more organised over the years. But among the various sets of pictures there was still room for some of those I took of London. And there continues to be the occasional posting over the years on the few occasions where I set out to photograph London rather than London events.

But while I try to continue to take the occasional day or half day to do this, more often the pictures of London I now take are made in the odd half hour between one event ending and another starting, and in particular when I’m travelling between events, quite often from the upper deck of a London bus or the window of a train. Often these images get rather lost in my collection, as there may be only one or two on any particular day, but on August 15 I thought there were enough that I’d taken of some interest to be worth posting as London Views.

Thinking about this before writing this post, I had an idea, and in future months I’ll perhaps put together some of these odd pictures I taken throughout the month in a single post – so ‘London Views‘ will perhaps become a regular monthly feature on My London Diary.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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