For my birthday my mother in law and her husband kindly gave me a gift certificate to join a History of the City of London Photography Tour.
I attended this yesterday afternoon and met up with the tour at St Mary Woolnoth Church in the heart of the City. I have been in this part of London many times and have not noticed the church before. This is what I was most looking forward to, having time to take in the sites on the City rather than racing from one end to the other trying to get to meetings, trains or offices etc.
The tour group consisted of about 14 people, mixed ability and with different cameras and aspirations of the tour.
Our guide was pleasant enough and was a published photographer, having exhibitions and a book published on the topic of post-war portacabins.
He was pleasant enough but did struggle to get the attention of everyone and to ensure each person had the kind of support or expectations of the day.
I am not sure what I was expecting but was happy to spend a couple hours in London trying to get a new perspective.
I did learn a few things about the City although not really from the tour, rather my fellow photographers (one of whom was part of a choir in the network of Sir Christopher Wren churches that dot around the City).
Richard did give some tips about shooting low, landscape and wide when capturing architecture. Rather than portrait etc which was interesting. I am not sure whether I knew this or was conscious of this before but I did find I used the tilt screen a lot during the tour to get the best low angels.
The tour took in sights such as The Guildhall, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Royal Exchange, The Bank of England and some lesser-known spots such as the lanes and back alleyways of the City as well as the St Albans Tower, which I didn’t know was converted into apartments!
If I am honest I wasn’t tremendously inspired by the tour. The guide seemed to want o show us the sights and have us capture the highlights on the route but the direction was vague.
For the most part, I listened to what he had to say, conversed with my fellow photographers then went off and shot what caught my eye.
I also gave one of the students some advice as she was a retired lady who wanted to learn the basics of photography, having inherited a lot of equipment from her late photography father. I, of course, recommended the beginner course with the British Academy of Photography which she was really keen to hear about. I hope she remembered their name!
There was another older lady there who was super keen to learn, but nervous and not getting the attention I think she hoped she would. Sadly she had bought a fairly expensive Canon as recommended by some salesman with one lens that she could afford. It was only when she joined the group she realised she’d been sold a fisheye lens and didn’t like (or expect) it. It’s such a shame salesman can prey on people like that. She was disappointed but took a lovely wide shot of the front of St Paul’s which made her smile.
The tour finished by the Tate Modern and I decided to leave them before they made their way across the Millennium Bridge as I have access to this part of London regularly as it is opposite my office.
It was nice to spend some time in a fairly deserted City of London and to pause to take in the sights I either zip past or don’t think to capture.
This was a very thoughtful gift and a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.
Here’s a selection of the photographs I captured during the tour:
All photographs taken with my Olympus Em5 mkii and 12-40mm Pro lens