I look at my own photos of London, taken between 2004 and 2008… and I can’t help feeling that the 2004 pictures have got a different air about them. I’m not sure what to attribute this to. It was my first ever time in London, it was April 2004, and every street, every building promised an adventure. I was also relieved to get back to my “real” self: a girl who grew up in a capital city and who loved exploring the endless twists and turns of streets and alleys of a highly urbanised city.
More than anything, the 2004 photos were made with a “soapbox” Kodak, so looking at these pictures now is interesting from a technical perspective. This is not digital photography, and the biggest difference consists in the fact that on my present camera I can view and review the result instantly. If I don’t like it, I can erase it and make a new picture. With a soapbox cam, using a film, I essentially follow the path blindly, relying on my eye to tell me if the image looks right.
But maybe – maybe – this is precisely what I find different in all these pictures of the UK’s capital city? Watching an image instantly on the screen is different from literally capturing it with the eye. Maybe I like the 2004 London photos exactly because taking them arguably involved more hard graft on my part?
But if it is so, then there must be a different reason for me liking those 2004 photos. And I reckon it is that I was really in love – not with London as such, but with the sheer sense of freedom, space, and liberation. Yes, spending 7 months in Manchester’s suburb after 22 years in Moscow was tough! Understanding this led me to explore Manchester more, so that now, I suppose, I could see the same feeling in the photos I take in Manchester. But on the human scale, the 2004 London photos capture my infatuation, the one of a kind that often takes place at the beginning of a romance.
Of course, what this means is that I must go to London some time soon. I miss it.