Back in September, I took part in the first London Urban Photo Race. The concept is genius. A photo marathon – 12 hours, 1 city, 6 themes and 18 photos.
‘Throughout the day participants were challenged to make a photo series (3 photos per theme) within a given time limit. These themes were disclosed at scheduled checkpoints throughout London, the purpose being to give participants an opportunity to see and look at the city in a different way, to discover new places and to meet other urban savvy photographers while using their creativity to interpret and translate different themes into photographs.’
This was the first one to be held in London, with previous events taking place in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
I had no idea what to expect when I signed up, and had no idea just how wet I would get (it was probably the wettest day in London from the past 6 months!!!).
We met in East London, where we were given the first 3 themes, and sent on our way. We had to meet at the second checkpoint between 1pm – 2pm (by St Pauls Cathedral) to get our card stamped and to get the next 2 themes, and then again between 4pm – 5pm (at the Photographer’s Gallery in Soho) to get the last 2 themes, meeting back in East London to download our photos and submit them, before the cut off at 10pm.
The themes were ambiguous, and could be interpreted however you wanted them to be. See my interpretation below…
As good as it gets
A dime a dozen
Not just a Londoner
Inspired by Tish Murtha (the British social documentary photographer, documenting London by Night (1983), telling the story of Soho and the commercial sex industry).
Having been an avid viewer of the Sky Arts Master of Photography programme, I knew that each photo theme had to tell a story – they had to belong together, so if you put them on the wall they would look like a ‘set’, not disjointed and out of place. I must admit I did struggle with some, but that is the idea of it. To make you think, to challenge your ideas and your perception of what photography is about.
When the results came through saying I had come third (out of about 100 photographers), I was beyond chuffed, especially as all my photos were taken on an iPhone 7 – the only person to do the challenge on a smartphone and not a DSLR. All the photos were submitted anonymously and renamed in a specific and generic way so you had no idea what camera people had used. One of the reasons I entered was to prove to myself – and to others – that the smartphone can challenge the DSLR in terms of ability. Yes, the DSLR has the added bonus of the zoom functionality (the zoom on a smartphone is rubbish), and would probably beat it in low light, but in terms of everyday photography, the smartphone can hold it’s own. I only have an iPhone 7, but when I see the quality of the iPhone X, the XS, The Huawei, the Samsung, and even the ‘about to be released’ Nokia 9 (will this put Nokia back in the game??!!!), it is phenomenal – and is only getting better.
Photography isn’t about what equipment you use – it’s about what you see, how you capture it, and how you feel when you look at that photo. You can have the best camera in the world, but if you have no vision and no passion you won’t get a good photo.
For more information about the Urban Photo Race, or when the next one will be, check out their website.