#898. Living in an un-destination part 1

By Paul Perton | Travel Photography

Sep 04
Gone, the Bricklayer’s Arms – Shoreditch

“Half of Hackney talks to itself.”

I’m waiting for a bus at the stop outside our local Lidl. This is the considered opinion of the lady next to me in the bus shelter. We’ve both been watching the antics of a man and a woman, also waiting for a bus, but passing the time by looking for something only they can see. All the while, they are both and separately talking to whoever it is that’s responsible for nothing at all.

I’m forced to agree; “It takes all sorts,” I reply hoping not to cause offence and spark an outburst of my own.

“It’s the drugs,” she says.

Fortunately, the 388 bus arrives before I am able to talk myself into a real corner.

Lone bike – Clapton
Miss Kim – Hackney
Untitled – Hackney
Pedestrian tunnel – Hackney
Winter sun
Keep the gate closed – Hackney
Sunny morning – Old Street
“Can you get a bit closer to the wall, please?” Hackney

When I lived in London in the ’70s, it was advisable to bring a bodyguard for safe access around here. Today, the place is populated by hirsute hipsters and slight, studious, often serious looking women, many pushing some kind of wheeled uber padded device containing their (no doubt) soon-to-also-be-hirsute and precious offspring(s). Oh yes, there are lots of snowflakes too, but Mrs P has warned me against even mentioning them.

I am on my way to a meeting, cradling a messenger bag laden with laptop and the inevitable Fuji. I feel safe on the streets – more than can be said for many places, Cape Town included. I’ve carried a camera everywhere for as long as I can remember and photographed as I’ve visited, walked, travelled, or simply just lolled, watching the world go by. Hackney is fine photographic fodder.

Goes well with blue – Hackney
Three geezers – Shoreditch
Untitled – Hackney
No entry – Hackney
Foundry – Hackney
Gas holder – Hackney

So. I’m living in what has to be one of the great urban un-destinations. In many respects, Hackney has it all; history, restaurants, gentrification, people from every nation and walk of life, building developments, pubs, industry, commerce and a whole lot more. There’s even a network of waterways, rivers and canals.

Not long after the incident in the bus shelter, I bought what has become my mobile studio. I still walk a lot, but this way, I can meander many more of the streets and byways, with a basic camera kit in the front carrier. There’s no shortage of things to see, explore and shoot.

Mobile studio in repose

For those interested, these photographs were shot with a mixture of X-Pro-1, -2 and X-H1 bodies, most with my new Zeiss 35mm Distagon – more of that later.

Anyway, there are lots of photographs to post. Part 2 follows in a few days.

Stairs – Hackney
Graffiti door – Hackney
Untitled – Hackney
Gloomy offices – Hackney
Foundry – Hackney
Giant Steps

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  • Paul, great article filled with excellent shots, looking forward to part 2 and your thoughts on the 35mm. Cheers

  • Sean says:

    Hi Paul,
    A terrific article and presentation of images. You’ve given the mundane a sense of identity and belonging. I particularly like this, and I quote “… Fortunately, the 388 bus arrives before I am able to talk myself into a real corner…” it made me smile, as did your mention of that lens – its a quality optic. Mine is being taken for a walk in the sun and air, this coming Friday.

    • Paul Perton says:

      Thanks Sean. My Distagon is currently getting almost daily use and will probably continue to be in such regular operation until winter arrives and slows things down. I’ve been working on part 2 of this post today and want a few more pics before I post that.

  • pascaljappy says:

    Wonderful stuff, Paul. Does “poetry” sound too pompous, ’cause it sure feels like poetry.

    • Sean says:

      Errr! Sometimes I don’t have the nouse to get a comment like this, as, at times, I’m a bit of a dunce. So, I’ll thus refer to my self, in this instance, as a nunce. What is this esoteric reference to poetry? 🙂

      • Paul Perton says:

        Sean (and anyone finding themselves in London) – if you want to walk some of this fascinating suburb, or anywhere else in the city, then let me know. If I’m available, I’ll make some time for you.

        • Sean says:

          Thank you Paul. That’s a generous and kind offer. Hopefully one day it may become a reality, not some distant wish.

  • Marta Moyle says:

    thanks for the story and good shots.

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Looks – and sounds – like an interesting place to live.

    A really good read and photos, some great, thanks for sharing!
    Personally I especially like the simplicity of the “Stairs”, the “Sunny morning” and the “…Bricklayer’s Arms”.

    ( I like my 6 gear Brompton too, great when the (train and) bus doesn’t go all the way! It hasn’t advanced to a studio yet, but it may. Only the Moulton rides better, but packs to slowly and rather bigger.)

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I won’t go as far as suggesting that ANY place can be turned into an “un-destination” – but I do think that if you have “the eye”, you can ferret out “un-destinations” in a great many more parts of the world. It seems you have returned to your native soil, checked in, and opened up your camera bag – and fallen straight into it, right next door to where you live.
    And what a pleasant surprise, for the rest of us!
    Glad you love your lens – I’ve been shooting with Zeiss glass for most of the past 65 years – if had similar quality optics from SIGMA’s ART lenses, but Carl has been a clear overall winner, for my purposes. But then – to each his own! – a bit like driving cars. I never learned how to drive as a racing car driver – that takes special skills, and someone who knows how to do that can achieve extraordinary outcomes with your car, while if you don’t share that skill set, you couldn’t hope to handle a racing car.

  • Frank says:

    Wonderfully evocative images and a strong sense of place. I enjoyed the color and monochrome images equally. Look forward to part II.

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