How do you return to a place again and again and take a different picture of it?
That has always been the case for me, living in London for the last 30-odd years, and doing most of my shooting a Tube’s ride away from home. But that’s become more pronounced in the last few years thanks to having a lot more cameras to shoot with, and the keep-close-to-home edict of the pandemic. I thought I knew my little patch of south-east London well before the pandemic.
The foreshore at Greenwich is one of the most historic spots in all of London. It’s from here that many of the most famous exploratory voyages in the age of empire set sail from. Greenwich was a hive of associated industries – everything from shipbuilding yards to gunpowder mills and makers of soap, rope and much more. The tidal ebb and flow each day reveals a pebbly beach covering all sorts of treasures from Greenwich’s past
This part of London has been massively redeveloped since the 1980s, when money could cover over the scars of World War II, industrial decline and neglect. There are still traces of Greenwich’s industrial and naval heyday amid all the glittering glass and steel of the new developments. This old pier-like structure is one of them, a stone’s throw from the old Trinity Hospital.
The sweep of the Thames here is particularly good for photographs, with the leading line of the embankment wall leading out to the modern buildings by London Bridge.
I came to the “beach” at low tide last year, testing a KMZ Zorki 1C, one of the Soviet copies of the Leica II made during the 1950s. It’s one of the first Barnack-style rangefinders I’ve used, and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of trying to get decent pics with its idiosyncratic (to me at least) operation.
The pier legs fill most of the frame, but it’s that lone figure on the beach which anchors it for me.