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The London Street Scene

April 8th, 2013 No Comments

Is this deeply private photograph – almost an intrusion – posed?  Just what is the couple doing?  All we can tell is that an intense human drama is playing out at a picturesque setting.  Apparently it is not posed and is a spontaneous exposure, for Stewart Marsden is a ‘street shooter’ who documents life in London.  His images were published in The Telegraph earlier this year.

Cartier-Bresson’s “fleeting moment” is on show in this Marsden shot which captures two tableaus.  This exposure recalls to mind another Cartier-Bresson expression as to the photographer having to wait like a “hunter” until the moment arrives.

How much more ‘composed’, in all senses of the word, is this riverscape.  What a picture— we have much-photographed and romanticized Tower Bridge presented in a matter-of-fact manner, unusual in being full side-on, and as the backdrop to a lone youth and barges in the foreground, with construction work and a crane in-frame.  One might call this image an exemplar of the Naturalism or Realism style.  Good eye!

Here are a few people on the fringes of society with a couple of them wearing rather ‘spacy’ looks.  But who’s that in the background?  People smack-dab in the mainstream of society such as commuters waiting for a bus!  Oh, for a shallower perspective (with a longer lens set to a narrow aperture) which would have brought these extremely different classes of Londoners closer to one another to heighten the impact. 

Here’s a fine little slice of life on the sidewalk.  First, is the blonde ignoring that pest Marsden or has she not seen her ‘hunter’ as she claws her hair back?  Second, did Marsden ignore himself or did he not see himself in the window pane?  Either way, ‘it works’.

Check out this lovely image encompassing two of London’s most famous sights.  It is more artistic (note the symmetry and also how Big Ben is framed within the Ferris Wheel and how both are framed within the two buildings on either side and the grimy wall below), more alive, and more genuine than any brochure or postcard photograph of these two sights – don’t you agree?

We’ve covered only a small sampling from the first half of this 30-image gallery.

Marsden’s street shooting is a cut above; many of the photographs make you wonder what’s happening or make you just take in the scene.  They convey both the throb and the tinkle of London’s street scene.


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