Posts Tagged ‘shopfronts’

More 1987 – Mainly Soho

Saturday, July 25th, 2020
Camden Town Cemetery, St Martin's Gardens, Camden St, Camden, 1987 87-1k-46_2400
Camden Town Cemetery, St Martin’s Gardens, Camden St, Camden, 1987

The slow process of putting up my old black and white pictures is continuing, thanks to the lockdown leaving the time on my hands. Although I’m going out of the house for exercise, that only occupies around 50 minutes of the day – and perhaps another half hour to recover.

This picture of the piled up gravestones in Camden Town Cemetery was taken in January and is one of the last from that month I’ve put on line. Although I’ve always liked to wander in cemeteries, often the only real places of peace and quiet in cities, and often good places to rest and eat my sandwiches, I’ve generally tried hard to avoid taking too many pictures in them unless there is a very strong reason to do so.

Partly because as a teacher of photography I saw far too many pictures by students of gravestones and monuments. They were easy to photograph, didn’t move much or complain about being photographed and supposedly said something profound about the human condition. At the in-house moderation of student photography coursework from across the country it was never long before I or another assistant examiner would be exclaiming “Not another sodding angel!”.

Wardour St, Soho, Westminster, 1987 87-2f-55-positive_2400
Wardour St, Soho, Westminster, 1987

In February I turned my attention to Soho, where photography was not always welcomed, though I didn’t intend to emphasise its more sordid aspects. It was one of London’s most varied and interesting areas, and remains so despite the ravages of property developers and Westminster Council.

But I didn’t avoid photographing the frontages offering ‘Intimate Bed Show – No Extras‘ though I didn’t go inside and photographed them in the early mornings when there were few touts or barkers around and any workers who might have occupied them were at home in their own beds. Nor did I meet the ‘Very Sexy Busty Brunette Model‘ whose notice was by a door in D’Arblay St, not even to make my excuses and leave.

Shop WIndow, Berwick St, Soho, Westminster, 1987 87-2f-46-positive_2400

But Soho was remarkable for the variety of shops, a place were almost everything was on sale – and sometimes it was difficult to know exactly what was on offer.

Butterfly, Upper James St, Soho, Westminster, 1987 87-2g-14-positive_2400
Butterfly, Upper James St, Soho, Westminster, 1987

There is still a clothes shop on the corner of Upper James St and Beak St, but it is now larger and more corporate, with a bland plate glass frontage, and Butterfly proved to be as ephemeral as its name suggests. Many other Soho businesses were longer lasting, and Randall & Aubin, late Morin and Cavereau remains in place on Brewer St, though many of the older continental businesses have now gone.

Randall & Aubin, Charcuterie, Brewer St, Soho, Westminster, 1987 87-2e-62-positive_2400

If you look through my pictures of Soho from 1987 you will find some showing the increasing Chinese presence in the area, including one of a crowd watching the New Year celebrations, but far less than in my later pictures of the area.

Charles II, Cibber, Soho Square, Soho, Westminster, 1987 87-2e-24-positive_2400
Charles II, Soho Square, Soho, Westminster, 1987

Soho Square still looked much the same when I was last there a few months before the lockdown, though I do wonder if Cibber’s statue of Charles II looks rather more worn now. Though we may now regret the restoration of the monarchy and feel that the puritanical excesses of the Commonwealth would better have been ended without bringing back a king the so-called ‘Merry Monarch’ does sound in some respects an improvement on our present royal house. And a king with no legitimate children who acknowledged at least a dozen by various mistresses is perhaps a suitable character to be remembered in Soho.

Haverstock Hill, Chalk Farm, Camden, 1987 87-1a-12_2400
More at 1987 London Photos

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


1986 Complete – Page 1

Saturday, April 11th, 2020

Images in this post are embedded from Flickr where you can view them at a large size by clicking on the image. You will need to use your browser back button to return to this post. Or you can right-click and select ‘Open link in new tab’.

Commercial St, Tower Hamlets 86-2d-51_2400

My album 1986 London Photographs is now complete on Flickr, and this is the first of a short series of posts pointing out a few of my favourite images from the year.

Of course the 1370 pictures in the album are not all I took that year, but perhaps about a quarter or a fifth. Quite a lot more than I would have selected or shown back in 1986, but the content has aged well, even if sometimes the actual physical negatives have deteriorated. Images that might have seemed a little mundane when I first saw them on the contact sheets have often gained considerably in interest as historical records.

There is a little redundancy in those 1370, and I’ve sometimes included several pictures of the same subject, where I’ve tried different ways to approach it. But the great majority of subjects were treated to only a single frame.

Crosby Row, Southwark 86-4f-11_2400

Many of those not included still have interest and value as historical records, but preparing them to go on line is tedious and time-consuming, particular as some need quite extensive digital retouching after the ‘scanning’ stage – mostly done by photographing the negatives with a Nikon D810 and Nikon 60mm macro lens. Some of my negatives were damaged by minute insects in search of gelatine, leaving their track as they chewed their way across them and depositing their frass and occasional body parts and complete restoration isn’t always possible.

Reuter, Royal Exchange, City 86-4l-66_2400

I’ve also been having problems in getting even lighting at the negative edges. This isn’t a problem with mounted slides, where the image is cropped, but I want the whole image, and possibly the problem is with light diffusing from the clear film edges. But it does mean every frame needs correction in Photoshop – rather like the little bit of edge-burning we used to do under the enlarger.

Courtenay Square, Kennington, Lambeth 86-4q-45_2400

I was working on a number of themes at the time and as well as recording buildings that interested me was particularly interest in sculptures, shopfronts, shop window displays and trees in the city. The first page of pictures on Flickr (100 images) includes work mainly from Southwark, the City of London and Spitalfields.

Brick Lane area, Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets 86-4p-55_2400

I took very few pictures of people at this time, partly because I was rather shy, but more that I had been affected by some feelings being strongly expressed by some at the time about privacy and arguments that it was wrong to photograph people without first seeking their permission. I was never convinced by these, but they were off-putting, and I was sometimes shouted at when taking pictures. Perhaps more importantly I wanted to direct attention to the things being photographed, and was aware that people almost always steal the frame.

There are another 95 pictures on the first page of the album, all with a location, taken from the usually rather incomplete information I recorded on the contact sheets. I’ve tried to check these before posting, but corrections and other comments are always welcome. I’m happy for these pictures – with suitable attribution – to be shared on social media, but they remain copyright and any commercial or editorial use requires a licence from me.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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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