The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

London, Andrzej Dragan, and meeting old friends for the first time

What on earth is an Oyster Card and how am I supposed to use it? On the Underground I recognise all these places from the Monopoly Board. On the bank of the River Thames I see all sorts of buildings from TV and films.

The last time I was in London, I was 15 years old and on a school trip to watch a play. This time I'm there for a seminar by polish photographer Andrjez Dragan, and to meet up with some old friends I'd not actually met in the flesh before.

Andrjez Dragan changed my approach to photography when I came across his work 6 years ago. Although I had been experimenting with portraiture, my general understanding was I needed to make my subjects look good, ideally in a flattering kind of way. Dragan made me realise I could move in the opposite direction towards engaging, characterful and edgy images.

My first big success was the creation of a photo of my friend, the poet David Mark Williams, which generated a great deal of feedback, was used on the front of issue 3 of Prole Magazine and was my first accepted image on the curated photo website,

The Poet

At 1x I met many superb photographers who were generous with their time and knowledge and over the next couple of years my understanding of photography leapt forward.

It's fair to say without the initial trigger of Andrjez Dragan and the help and support of members of the 1x community my photography would be of neither the standard nor style it has become.

So when I discovered Andrjez Dragan was holding a seminar in London I had to go. But I also realised there was an opportunity to meet up with some of the photographers I had met online at 1x. A few emails and Facebook messages later and Andre Du Plessis, Gerry Sexton and Chris Dixon started arranging a get together (click on their names to see their superb photography).

Andre went even further and helped arrange accommodation for me, collected me from the station and ferried me about a few times. The warmth and generosity of these guys was amazing, and we spent most of Sunday out with the cameras along the South Bank of The Thames.

Here are a selection of the photos I took. You can find more on my Facebook album here:

It might look like Mediterranean sun, but it was only about 3C

Andre with vapouriser

Gerry behind a wall


"It's the real thing"

Hoping we can do it again some time


Pat said...

As you know I love these photos and commented on F.B.
well worth you making the journey I'm sure.
I wonder what you felt about London at the end of the day?
last year I spent a day with Tom my grandson doing a couple of Museums and wandering round my old stamping grounds. To my surprise I found I still had an affection for it.
Next day when I could barely move
Poor Tom was told he wasn't allowed to take Grandma round London again.

Kim Ayres said...

Pat - I've come to realise I'm a small town boy, happiest in places where there are access to shops, but countryside (and especially coast) are easily accessible.

Cities tend to overwhelm me and I can only really cope if I can latch on to a friend who's local and is happy to show me around.

Guyana-Gyal said...

I like edgy!

Cities scare me too, only yesterday I was telling someone this, but if I have good company, I'm happy to tour a city.

But it's great that you were brave and went. It was worth it, wasn't it?

Yes, you do capture personalities well, I'm going to look at all the photos again.

Kim Ayres said...

Guyana-Gyal - It was definitely worth going, although I think I got more out of meeting up with the other photographers than I did from the actual seminar. If I'm honest, I didn't learn much I didn't already know. Because I was such a fan of Dragan's work, I'd already studied his techniques and read the interviews, and there wasn't really much new. However, if I hadn't gone, I'd have been wondering "what if" forever more.

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