So, no visitors from Scotland this week, and so the world of Secret Life adventures is my oyster....or at least back in the hands of friends suggesting colour and number combinations! This week it was 'Orange - 8'. Well, orange as a category is 'Out and About in London' - I am wondering if I was a bit vague when I pulled that together, this could be anything! I pulled out a flyer for a company called 'Foto Ruta' - a company which encourages 'urban exploration though photography'. I feel strangely nervous when I am set a 'creative challenge' as I always expect a lot of myself as a former art student. As we met our guide for the day Jahel in the relaxed setting of a lovely bar in Portobello, I was soon at ease. She explained the background to this innovative company, which started in Buenos Aires and then expanded to Barcelona and London - a creative company with a latin background, what's not to love? Jahel talked us through some of the key principles of composition in a very accessible way, and explained the format of the day. Foto Ruta do a series of workshops and tours and this one 'Foto Ruta Clue' leads you on a journey of discovery through a London neighbourhood. A series of 'clues' are given as an inspiration for you to interpret in your own way, such as 'trail of treasures' and 'low altitude'. We were paired up, and so my new colleague in creativity for the day, Marjon and I set off on our adventure...
Our playground for this exploration was Portobello Road and Notting Hill, and we had two hours to explore, capture and then return to the finish point to compare results. Marion, my team mate for the afternoon was a lovely Dutch lady who had extended her working trip to London to see a bit more of the City. What a great way to do it! I was working with my bridge Fuji camera, and Marjon with her iPhone. This is a really great thing about Foto Ruta, they don't discriminate around choice of cameras, it's all about the content rather than the tools you use. Portobello was a real hive of activity as you would expect. I tend to photograph objects rather than people (well, except for on nights out!) so I was keen to try and explore some portrait/people shots. This is so tricky, especially in such a busy area. You find that you either always have people in the way of your shot, or if you try to get a candid shot, the person will spot you and then pose, not the look I was after. My opportunity came when I saw a young woman playing a ukulele and singing...could this fit the 'everyday hero' clue?
OK, so I didn't get all of her feet in, but cut me some slack, it was so hard to get a shot without people walking past all the time, damn them! I was quite pleased to capture the action of her singing and playing though, and decided to leave aside my personal preference for a 'from above' photo which I always find more flattering on aforementioned night out. It was proving difficult to meet all of the clues, as we took photographs that we thought we might 'shoehorn' into a category later. Not always successful, but there were some which I was quite pleased with, like this one I took at a stall selling an array of silver tankards, which I have fitted into the 'blur on purpose' category...
And so we continued all the way up to Notting Hill where I couldn't help but laugh at the irony of this sign in this very 'lively' area....
We headed back along Portobello Road to our finish point at the far end near the iconic Trellick Tower, another chance for a last photograph of this example of Brutalist architecture. I real love/hate on this, but I can't help but wonder what it would be like to live there. We all agreed that it was a fantastic afternoon, although we felt slightly exhausted. Jahel then asked us to share some of our favourite images and in her great, encouraging way, talked through them all in a really positive way. All done over a glass of wine - part of the wonderful Foto Ruta package. I went home inspired...and determined to learn how to fully use my camera and attend another one of these great sessions!
Denise Yeats is an events director, communications consultant, endurance athlete and avid adventurer.