I’ve been in contact with a bunch of the guys I met on/at #lndnwlk back in May and a few weeks ago some of us met for a rematch. Last time I took my Hasselblad and rather wished I had either taken my Fuji, otherwise known as a Texas Leica, or bought an actual Leica. Medium format street photography either requires a faster and more ergonomic camera or a better, faster photographer. I was happy with a number of the photos I took on that walk, but they were the ones that I had time to compose and meter for. Whenever I tried to be fast and impulsive I missed focus or missed my exposure.
Given this chance for a rematch I was determined to get closer to action, to be more spontaneous and, given the number of Leicas on #lndnwlk I thought I would take the closest thing I have to one, my Texas-Leica. Packing was therefore delightfully simple, no extra lenses as they don’t interchange, all I needed was the camera, a light meter, and lots of some film, (it only gets 8 shots to a roll).
The itinerary for the day was as follows – rouse oneself at 4am, find coffee and my camera bag, find my car keys, and head for Gloucester. After picking up a pal and circumnavigating some roadworks I headed for London. We stashed the motor in a mate’s warehouse in Hackney, and made it to London Bridge for 8.30am. (Whenever I cross the country at dawn with no time to stop, I’m treated to a glorious sunrise over picturesque countryside).
We met the gang and went for a walk along the Thames before taking the DLR to Canary wharf. We hit Spitalfields, Covent Garden, Soho, China Town, the West End, and Embankment, before heading back towards Hackney and the warehouse. Somewhere in the middle we caught the Vivien Maier exhibition and toured the photographers’ gallery. I got home at half eleven, after 19 hours, and apparently over 30,000 steps, in flip-flops.
The excitement of being footloose in the big smoke, coupled with being tired and over caffeinated lead to a relaxed and laissez faire attitude to taking photos. I took a lot of film with me, but didn’t manage to finish my fourth roll, (I took fewer than 32 photos all day).
Whilst not unhappy with the images I captured on the day, I was conscious that I was countering my slowness with formalist compositions. It’s clear that even after 14 months with the Fuji in my arsenal I’m still not quick enough with it, I was still slower and more measured than the guys I was shooting with even when taking a laissez-faire approach to metering.
I have now sensibly eased myself back from the brink. I returned and purchased no Leica, (although I have arranged a short term swap, an M2 for the ‘Blad), and I’ve decided that next time we meet, this time in Manchester, I’ll just take an SLR.