Last weekend, I attended Photo24 in London. The theory is simple enough: go to London, stay awake for 24 hours, take photographs. In reality it’s bloody hard work. The tricky time is in the small hours when the initial euphoria of the whole experience and the excitement of being able to concentrate on picture taking has died down. It doesn’t help that the London Underground stops overnight too, which means you end up relying on Shanks’s Pony to get from A to Z. Being honest, it can feel a bit miserable and this shows in the shots I took – the ones done at night are barely worth sharing; I’m much happier with the images that book-ended the event. But let’s not get all doom and gloom. Shooting for 24 hours is the ultimate photographic indulgence and I wasn’t going to let it pass with a whimper.
I’d attended a similar event last year and on that occasion was completely unprepared. I took all my photo gear – tripod included – and ended up sticking largely with one camera and one lens. This year, I decided to rationalise my kit right down and went to the opposite extreme. I chose a camera with one lens – the Nikon Coolpix A – and took a Gorillapod for the odd occasion that I might want some support. Both fitted into a small shoulder bag, so I was light and mobile the whole time.
I wanted to focus my shooting too, concentrating on candids and street photography rather than capturing the hackneyed shots of London landmarks that I, along with the rest of the world, have photographed a hundred times before. I did lapse on a few occasions, notably at Admiralty Arch and The Shard but only because these are two spots that I hadn’t shot before. Well that’s my excuse, anyway.
The Coolpix A proved to be a great companion for the 24 hours. Sure, I could have done with more telephoto power on the odd occasion, but legs work pretty well for getting you closer to a subject; who knew? I never resorted to flash, but I did review my images regularly and the battery lasted on a single charge through the whole period. The fixed 18.5mm lens (28mm equivalent) is perfect for street shooting and I regularly shot unnoticed from the hip. With an APS-C sized sensor, the quality is impressive too, I had no qualms pushing the ISO up to 3200 when shooting at night.
As I sit here, feet soaking in a bowl of warm water, I’m pleased with my haul. I’ve certainly gained confidence to shoot more street pictures and feel less apprehensive about pointing a camera towards a fellow human being. Photographer Zack Arias has a great trick for street photography, which worked well for me: stand in front of your subject and point your camera upwards. Take a couple of shots, then lower it and point the camera at your subject. They’ll think you’re reviewing the shots you’ve just taken when, in fact, you’re photographing them. Clever, and it works!