Location, location, location…
I'm a French-American photographer, based in London, and location, to me, is everything! It not only provides context to the entire image, but can drastically change the atmosphere and message of the photograph.
Although I touch on a variety of subjects within my freelance practice, I consider myself to be a documentary photographer at heart. For me, photography is, before anything, a mode of observation, a snapshot and commentary on a particular moment in a particular environment — and each photograph provides a unique understanding of that singular and irreproducible point in time and space.
In each location, characterised by its own history and experiences, I enter into a dialogue with the space, leaving enough freedom to the moment to enable and welcome its unpredictability.
Here are 10 locations in London that truly have their own personalities…
Ravenswood Industrial Estate,
Shernall Street, Walthamstow, E17 9HQ
This space is like a bright colourful maze, filled with different neon lights and signs. It's a great place to experiment with lights, reflections, and depth of field. And there's a café for you to get a drink after you finish exploring!
They also hire the space for shoots and film sets, so just email before going to let them know it's just one photographer with a handheld camera taking photos for non-commercial purposes.
Euston Road, King’s Cross,
This hotel is connected to St. Pancras Station; in fact, if you've ever taken the Eurostar into London, as you arrive to the platform, you can see some of the suites looking out onto the rails. The hotel is beautiful, and this staircase is truly a masterpiece with curved railings across multiple floors. I could spend hours shooting there, playing with lines and the illusions they create.
Email before going to let them know it’s just one photographer with a handheld camera taking photos for non-commercial purposes. They also hire out the space for shoots and sets (it's where The Spice Girls shot Wannabe!).
King’s Cross, N1C 4AB
Designed by Bell Phillips Architects, this park is really special — you'll find this isolated circular green space, just behind Central St. Martins along Regent’s Canal, in the centre of an iconic London gasholder, surrounded by a series of mirrors. The park isn't very big, but you can spend hours there experimenting with the mirrors and exploring the endless possibilities they have to offer!
Hampstead, NW3 / NW5
Head up North to Hampstead Heath for a little getaway from London. The park is huge and there are plenty of hidden fields and bits of forest to explore and experiment with — and sunrise on the Heath is breathtaking.
Fulham Road, Kensington, SW10 9UG
In my first year in London, I was looking for cemeteries for one of my projects, and originally wanted to go to Highgate Cemetery, but ended up here instead. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I remember being entranced by this unusual eerie, but serene, feeling. I had never felt particularly peaceful in any cemetery before, however, this one had a strange quality, where you felt you could come here to have a moment with yourself and your thoughts.
Please be aware and respectful of the people around you.
Barbican, EC2Y 8BN
The Barbican is a known go-to place to shoot, but the estate has always been a subject of fascination for me. After the World War II bombings in the City of London, the plan was to create a utopian ideal for London residents: twenty years later, reconstruction began in the area, with elevated walkways and green spaces, making the Barbican entirely pedestrian and isolated from busy London streets. Whilst the Barbican Estate is obviously recognisable in a photograph, its intricate network of paths and bridges always points you towards a new discovery, encouraging you to tell your own story.
For this particular car park, enter the Barbican Centre via Silk Street; go through the Barbican Centre, towards the Barbican Kitchen, and exit facing the water. Turn right and near the staircase, there should be an entrance to the car park!
Silk Street, Barbican, EC2Y 8DS
You can find this corridor on Level 3 of the Barbican Centre. And check the Barbican website to find out opening hours for the Conservatory — it's only open a few days a month.
Canary Wharf, E14 5EL
This futuristic bridge connects One Canada Square to Crossrail Place. It's not that long, but in a photograph, the continuous neon light from one end to the other makes the bridge look endless. I would avoid peak times; you'll struggle getting a shot of the bridge without anyone else in the background, but it's definitely worth going. And whilst you're there, you should check out the Crossrail Place Roof Garden on the top floor of Crossrail Place if you haven't already!
F1-F6 Peckham Town Centre Carpark,
95A Rye Ln, SE15 4ST
Be aware that this is a staircase leading up to a busy bar/artist studios, so there are people constantly coming up and down. You may run into some problems with the venue if you're looking to do a more complex shoot. However, if you're going with a model and a handheld camera, you should be just fine! Also, each floor is painted in a different colour, with neon lights to match, so you can really play around with light, shadows, and colours.
Lambeth, SE1 8XX*
Like the Barbican, the Southbank Centre benefits from elevated walkways and pedestrian areas, making it another interesting Brutalist complex to explore in London.
*The staircase is by the Thames, but there are tons of other interesting spots around the Southbank Centre to discover too!