Every year Dickinsonians make a journey around the globe, whether it be for a semester or year, to continue working on their liberal arts education and cultivating a better global perspective. Lead by David Strand, Professor of Political Science and East Asian Studies, a group of juniors including myself managed to navigate the thousands-year-old city of London. Departing each day from our hotel in Bloomsbury we set out on daily adventures to places like St. Paul’s Cathedral and poet John Keats’ house in Hampstead. For someone studying photography, it is difficult to resist taking photos and coming across as an obvious tourist with their lens clicking at every possible opportunity. Fortunately, my self-imposed restraint created an opportunity. Rather than taking photographs of everything I saw, I had to look with earnest, selecting only a few objects or areas.
Walking around London there is something extraordinary on almost every corner, such as an incredibly fat pigeon or a tavern from the 16th century, but when you are trying to document the city you have to think about what images work with each other. Not much of Roman London (or “Londinium” as it was known then) remains save for the wall by the Tower of London, so I tried to find a balance between the cliché and candid originals. However, it is also perfectly fine to take photographs of the overshot landmarks, but it can also be interesting to portray them from a different perspective.
Instead of just clicking away, I suggest taking a moment to look around and find something unexpected, something no one is paying attention to. The Tube provided wonderful opportunities for candid portraits. The British tend to keep to themselves on the underground, but that silence and stillness helps isolate potential subjects, and while you might receive some weird looks for having your camera out, the results are worth the final product. Always be prepared for the unexpected, for you never know how the most mundane of moments can turn out to be extraordinary. I’ve left London behind for the eastern coast, but there is still more to see, and even more to be documented.