Originally from Trieste and educated in Venice to masters degree level in arts management, Emma moved to London from Italy last winter 2014. We met by chance when Emma was counting people at UAL for a living. Emma kept passing my office and after we had greeted each other several times I spoke to her in Italian. I had been thinking of developing this project towards an exhibition and possibly a publication, so it seemed as if Emma had been sent me by fate. I told her about all things Freeborn, we became great friends and Emma has been and continues to be a key part of my support team ever since. I now consider Emma an honorary Freeborn!
This year marks the centenary of the First World War (1914-1918). 2014 has seen numerous events marking this historic period and today millions around the world paid respect to the sacrifice made by so many young men. The Queen led the UK in remembrance at Whitehall today, joined by other members of the royal family, Prime Minister and many other dignitaries. Over 10,000 veterans marched past the Cenotaph afterwards. Closely connected with today is the art installation of red ceramic poppies at the Tower of London which has been seen by up to four million.
Earlier this morning I attended and photographed the Lambeth Remembrance Service and Wreath Laying Ceremony which was a more intimate and yet equally poignant event in Brixton, Borough of Lambeth, London.
Fireworks are exploding into the dark evening skies all over London and Britain this week around the annual traditional Bonfire or Guy Fawkes night as it is referred to here in England. I was out with my camera to capture the action and most importantly make portraits of some of the people enjoying this festive week. Brockwell Park near Brixton, Herne Hill and Tulse Hill was full of wonderful folk and fun was had by all. Here’s a selection for all to enjoy, whether you’re in South London or Slovakia!
If you want to catch some more of the action then have a look at the Time Out London guide to London Firework displays.
Sorcery and black magic were cast all over the world last night. It proved to be an excellent night to explore with my Canon 7D, 50mm 1.4F lens and 580EXII Speedlite flash. Thanks to everyone who was truly #Freeborn and expressed their wonderful creativity!
These are the top 30 Freeborn portraits from adventures through the streets of Brixton, Market Row, Brixton Village Market and Effra Social Club with The Crumps Cramps Tribute Band performing downstairs whilst The Artful Badger performed incantations above in the haunted upstairs flats…the weekend isn’t over yet…and wherever you are in the world…be sure to enjoy the fun that is…Halloween!
Gabby and I were flatmates for a few years when we both lived in Leeds some time ago. She worked as an academic for Leeds University whilst I worked for Leeds Metropolitan University close by. Those days we only had to walk across Hyde Park or Woodhouse Moor as it’s also called in Leeds, for 20 minutes to get to our respective offices.
Since then our lives have taken us across the world, with my documentary photography adventures and Gabby who is now living in Nairobi whilst working for the University of Warwick. As she is an expert in tribal politics, Gabby follows truth commissions around Kenya. She is also writing yet another interesting book on the subject.
I currently live and work in London and always look forward to seeing my old flatmate when she visits. We always meet, celebrate and enjoy ethnic food in places such as Brixton Village Market or Dalston Street Feast, where I made Gabby’s portrait above. I loved how the blue shipping container we ate beside acted as the perfect impromptu backdrop for her splendid and vibrant outfit.
One of my favourite little Australian sisters Bec, also known as Freeborn Exhibit B in my collection of wonderful people, is on this side of the equator, adventuring through Europe for a few months. I was thrilled to meet her in Dublin recently when we were both travelling in Ireland. Since so much of our friendship is based around folk music and tea drinking it was very fitting that we met at The Cobblestone traditional music pub in Smithfield, Dublin. I arrived to find Bec singing a cappella with the whole session enthralled by her beautiful voice.
I was then honoured to be able to play host to Bec in Brixton, London a few weeks ago and will be doing so again when she arrives back from her current European adventures. I will be making a portrait of Bec when she returns but I wanted to share this, one of my favourite portraits which I took when we were at RiverHawke Festival outside Sydney with friends a few years ago. What a weekend of fun that was!
I can’t wait to hear all about Bec’s adventures in Europe over a pot of something special from T2, the fantastic tea shop she worked in in Sydney for many years. Originally conceived in Melbourne there’s now one in Shoreditch, London, where we will be making a pilgrimage to upon her return. Bec also made me a great Spotify folk music playlist so that will work nicely and I’m hoping we can seek out a traditional Irish folk session in London too.
One of my favourite and most memorable moments from my fortunate adventures around the world so far. A simple exchange took place with this mechanic, as I wandered through the vibrant and colourful local market, in the city of Ben Tre, on the Mekong Delta.
Skipping from one shaded part of the market to the next and I passed by him, smiling and saying hello in Vietnamese… “Chào” (pronounced “jow”). He enjoyed hearing it in my amusing Irish accent. I asked if he was happy for me to make his portrait and this is the result.
Of course I was sure to give thanks in Vietnamese… “Cảm ơn” (pronounced “gam uhhn”). It’s wonderful to think what you can fit into less time than it takes to smoke a cigarette…a human connection that’s imprinted on your mind forever! An openness of spirit and the effort to learn a few words and phrases of a new language can go a long way. One day I hope to see Vietnam again. Who knows maybe we’ll cross paths again one day!
So…I’ve been in the Irish countryside working on the farm, chopping wood, growing a beard and working in the garden. Now I’m back in London and I wanted to share more of the interesting experiences I had when I travelled the world and expanded my mind. I have a host of images in my “bank” that I’d like the world to have the opportunity to see….and here are some more of them…
As we say in Ireland…”What’s the story?”…..Well, my younger brother Stuart (Disco Stu) and I travelled to eastern europe for a week last June, from Budapest out to Lake Balaton to visit some family and then up to Bratislava, across to Vienna, down to Gyor in northwest Hungary and back to Budapest. It was quite the spin!
We had 24hrs in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava which we found very charming. Arriving at a Couchsurfing social with our bags on our backs (or wheels because it’s the way to go these days) we offered two lucky leprechauns to the highest social bidder! Well it was a fun night and we ended up staying with top bloke called Anton Cernak who we had lots in common with and had a right laugh.
We only visited the Tourist Information Office once, preferring to find our own way around, but when we did the gruff lady who “received” us…gave us the wrong time for the bus to Vienna. I always do my best to turn a negative into a positive and found myself enjoying the funky artistically decorated graffiti of Bratislava’s bus station. When I went to the toilet and stood at the urinal this shaved headed guy walked in and at first I put my hand to my pocket in case of being pick-pocketed (I shouldn’t have judged so quick) only to find that the guy was working as the toilet attendant. He was fixing the soap in a net that hung above the wash hand basin to avoid the soap getting dropped on the floor. I commented “that’s clever” and smiled at him (not something most straight guys do in toilets considering that even making eye contact with another guy is a real no-no…and women actually accompany each other to the toilet…???).
He then came out of the toilet and lit a cigarette as I was leaving. I couldn’t resist capturing the image of such a striking character, of course introducing myself first and asking his permission.
He told me his name was Vladimir…
I then ran for the bus to find that it wasn’t coming for another hour so I popped back to chat with him a little more and take this photo as I wanted to get a little closer and see some more of his great character.
The moral of the story is that as much as I try not to stereotype it’s slightly engrained. The above photo is of Vladimir holding my business card after we had a broken English/Slovakian (I had a handful of words)…and he was an absolute gent.
It’s amazing where you can meet real characters in this world and how wrong you can be when jumping to stereotypical conclusions. I’m just glad I observed who Vladimir really was, spent a little time with him and gave him a coin for keeping the Bratislavan capital’s bus station toilet clean and presentable.