Red Dead Redemption 2 - Saint Denis by Ed Walker

For the past six months, I’ve been walking around Saint-Denis taking photos. Soaking up the New Orleans style atmosphere and walking the back streets, often at night, to capture the horse-drawn carriages, steam trains and the people in 19th-century dress. I’ve been using a box camera much like the Kodak No.1, but my version shoots colour, has a zoom and a shutter speed that rivals any Nikon or Canon. I’ve been out there in the rain and thunderstorms, dodging the bar brawls and getting trampled by cowboys on horseback.


But this isn’t Saint-Denis the suburb of Paris and I haven’t travelled back in time but I’ve been shooting in Red Dead Redemption 2, a PS4 game set in 1899. Rockstar, who make the game, have recreated a period city within the game and your character Arthur has a camera much like the cameras of the time (even if it’s supercharged way beyond what could be achieved in 1899). I’ve been experimenting with In-Game Photography.


A lot of photographers wouldn’t even consider this photography but if you define the art form as composing a scene and waiting for the decisive moment then this is absolutely how I would see it. In-Game Photography has been around for quite a while now, starting way back when games first were born it didn’t really come into its own until the nineties with games like The Sims and Second Life. Players would put hours in to create or develop a character and wanted to save their work for prosperity. Now there are countless In-Game Photographers out there and most big game companies hire photography minded creatives to develop screenshots to promote games. Most people just want to show off moments in games which they think are beautiful or catalogue their achievements.


Increasingly on sites like Reddit gamers are creating shots which are masterful in their composition, beautifully lit and expertly processed and these are people who’ve never touched Lightroom or taken a course in photography. SubReddit’s like In Game Photography have many examples of work that prove that photography has many facets, and you can explore and master some of those facets, like composition, while the other facets are taken care of by the device.


Red Dead Redemption is the first game that I’ve played where I really felt like I could apply my style of street photography to this medium and I’ve had so much fun taking shots around Saint-Denis of the interaction of the people, the architecture and the light. Everything you see in the pictures is ‘candid’ as in I couldn’t stop time or move elements around to create a scene. All of these pictures were captured in exactly the same way I shoot real street, by hanging around, waiting for the right subjects and revisiting areas I liked over and over again.


I shot the pictures in the game, uploaded them to the Rockstar website, downloaded them and processed them in Lightroom, playing with the colour balance, adding depth and making the images pop a little more. But essentially this is like a window into the past, I can’t go back in time and take these shots and even though this is an artistic interpretation I’ve really enjoyed my time in Saint-Denis.


As games get even more realistic, offer even more photography options (many games now allow you to freeze the frame, spin around the scene and add depth of field, change the time of day and lots of other options) In-Game Photography will be recognised outside of the niche online forums it currently occupies.

Soho Spotlight by Ed Walker

There is a reason for why I’ve taken so long to upload the final versions of these pictures but I don’t know what it is. I also processed these shots in the autumn but again they have sat on my hard drive waiting. I don’t know why.


The first shots were taken at London Pride in 2017, with the last shot taken in September ‘18. There have been big gaps between flurries of activity and although London has many more nooks and crannies to find people in, it’s much less consistent in the kind of people I want to shoot.


If you look at my Instagram feed, you will see various versions of these images in different crops and processing. I’ve been attempting to experiment with my framing and create a collection that has a different feel to previous ones. However, when I go back and collect together the shots for the final collection I still am drawn to the centre crop. I think this might be because I want to tell a consistent story with the images and it also appeals to the typology side of my photography brain.


Another significant change from previous work has been my approach on the street. When I was in New York I was constantly on the move. In London, because of the type of people I wanted to capture and the vastness of London it because clear that I really needed to stay in a number of spots to maintain the style and quality of the subjects. The majority of these shots were taken on Carnaby Street.


You can see the entire collection here.

Brand New Work by Ed Walker


The weather in London has been exceptionally good recently and the sun has sparked me to create some new work. It's not even on my Instagram yet but I'm so excited about it I want to show you now.


I've been thinking about why shoot the pictures I shoot and how people are coming out of the darkness into the light also that there are outlined like cartoons. The whole thing has some magical realism aspects to it.


I still don't know what it means, sometimes I think it's just because I've been a graphic designer all my career what I'm really doing is composing layouts and stylising them. But it has to be something more than that, however I still don't know what it is.


Coal Holes of London by Ed Walker


I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I love a good typology. There is something very soothing about viewing them and similarly there is something very calming about making one. Usually they are inanimate objects which is a nice change instead of taking candid pictures of people on the street and the stress and strains that comes with that pursuit. There is also the added pleasure of taking pictures of things that are the same but different. You feel like an archaeologist discovering something just below the surface of the real world and uncovering details which most people have seldom ever thought about.


For me personally it is a palette cleanser, it allows me to take time to remember other aspects of photography that whilst in the maelstrom of creating a street project you forget, I get to use different f stops, light and composition. It also allows you to learn something different about the world we are living in and, for a moment, glimpse into other people’s reality.


Coal Holes are such a moment. I had seen these 7-12” metal plates on our street many times, often thinking I had no idea what they could be. I’ve even looked at them carefully, reading the typography and being no wiser before I decided that actually I had to take pictures of them. It was only after I had, and I started to search online for some kind of answer that I realised they are a link to London’s past that has long gone and will never return.

Placed sometimes only inches apart on the street they are chutes down to coal houses under the ground. I knew that in front of our building, under the road, were arches that were now empty. I knew this because we discovered a man living in one once but most of them have wire mesh over them now and any hints of coal have long since gone. Mainly used in the 19th and 20th century to heat and feed homes around the UK they were effectively stopped in 1956 when the clean air act forced oil and gas to be used instead.


While this is all very interesting, what really fascinates me are the designs. Different companies, different styles and (when the designs are the same) the pavement stone or concrete that surrounds them. The typography around the edges of, most probably, long since gone companies and the circles, patterns and stars that fill the centre.


So, take a look at the pictures, numerous people who have seen them have commented that they had never noticed them before but now they can’t stop seeing them as they walk around London. I am obviously not the first person to document them and probably for that reason I won’t go too deep into this project but for me it’s another lovely memento of the joys of London, one day they will all be gone and for that reason, I’ve loved taking pictures of them.

Oxford Circus Project End by Ed Walker


So I said I was going to continue with my current project on Oxford Circus but actually I have decided to stop. The Christmas lights have come down and also the shops’ lighting conditions have changed so it would look different to the rest of the pictures. What I did do was re-crop and re-process a lot of them and you can see the final gallery here.

However, my Sigma lens works wonderfully so I’m going to explore other parts of the West End and find another subject, maybe Soho, maybe Chinatown or even somewhere completely different. The evenings still draw in early and until it’s no longer dark when I leave work I’ll use that to build upon what I’ve learned in this project.

I’ve also been remiss in writing my pieces about other photographers. I bought a book on Joel Meyerowitz and planned to write a post about how his work has not only influenced me but countless others.

I recently re-joined the London Independent Photographers. I’ve yet to go to a meeting but it’s something I need to make time to do as well as re-equaint myself to the world of Street Photography, if I have one New Year’s Resolution it’s to throw myself back into my photography. Last year was a rest and a review of what I wanted to get out of it, now I have a better idea I need to act on it.


My photography in 2017 by Ed Walker

Oxford Circus, Racoon, 2017

Oxford Circus, Racoon, 2017

My photography in 2017 has taken a back seat, a new job and readjusting after coming back from New York has resulted in my output being significantly less than 2016.

The year started slowly. In February I discovered Wimbledon Dogs was closing its doors for the last time in March. This gave me four Saturday night meets to put together a project. The viewing gallery, which had seen much better days, was on the opening straight. The floodlit track gave me the perfect mixture of light and dark and I found shooting there really easy, I wished I had gone there sooner, over a much longer timespan. I could have really told and interesting story but with only four weeks until it closed it was difficult to build a story and get to know anyone. I was very happy with a couple of shots but on the whole it was a missed opportunity.

Last Of the Dog Days, 1, 2017

Last Of the Dog Days, 1, 2017

Last of the Dog Days, 2, 2017

Last of the Dog Days, 2, 2017

Last of the Dog Days, 3, 2017

Last of the Dog Days, 3, 2017

Last of the Dog Days, 4, 2017

Last of the Dog Days, 4, 2017

Last of the Dog Days, 5, 2017

Last of the Dog Days, 5, 2017

The summer months seemed to come and go quickly, this was because I had just started my job at The Business of Fashion and all of my energy was going into that. I did go and shoot occasionally but found it difficult to find the right spots and also the weather being so intermittent made it nearly impossible. Probably my best day was Pride, where I managed to get a couple of shots that really felt like a step forward from my pictures in New York. Next year I’m going to more carefully decide on locations, scout for places with the right kind of people and really double down on what worked this year.


All year I had been spying a Sigma f1.4 lens and in the first week of November, when the nights had drawn in to the point where it was dark at 5:30, I bought one.

I started a project on Oxford St which used the lights from the shop windows to illuminate my subjects. So every evening I walked up and down Oxford St for around an hour shooting people shopping, leaving work or going somewhere for a night out. There were various shops up and down the street which had really superb, bright windows and with my new f1.4 I could pretty much start to grab the kinds of images that I’d had in my minds eye for quite a while.  

Oxford Circus, Beret, 2017

Oxford Circus, Beret, 2017

Oxford Circus, Smooth, 2017

Oxford Circus, Smooth, 2017

Oxford Circus, Bucherer, 2017

Oxford Circus, Bucherer, 2017

Oxford Circus, H&M, 2017

Oxford Circus, H&M, 2017

Oxford Circus, Beanie, 2017

Oxford Circus, Beanie, 2017

At first I took all manner of compositions, groups, busy images of lots of people at once, multiple layers of shoppers and very close to very wide. As the project moved into its middle stage I started to focus my attention on the single, lone subject.

This is exactly what I did last year in New York and it has started to make me think more about why this is my preferred way to shoot. There has to be something in the connection you get when you pick out one person from the crowd, stand directly in front of them and take their picture. I think I’m looking for a one on one moment, especially as these are all people who catch my eye. I’m selecting the eccentric, stylish, beautiful people. The psychology of this should be simple to decipher, it’s plain as day in front of my eyes but over the years I’ve tried to deny it somewhat, I’m looking for cool people because I want to be that way. The street format suits me perfectly because I don’t have to speak to them afterwards and display my social awkwardness. My introverted nature means that sometimes people think I’m aloof but most of the time I’m just scared and find social interaction hard. By taking pictures of the people I do, I am somehow complimenting them. I understand that they don’t see it that was always, some do, but by collecting these moments in time I feel like I’m connected with them. The obvious question is why don’t I talk to them, or just go and shoot models and fashion and the answer is; I don’t know.

But back to the project. It isn’t finished yet, I hope to continue into January, at the moment I have half a dozen shots I’m really happy with but now I have identified (and come to terms with) what I really am looking for, I want to zero in and make the second half somehow comment on that. I don’t know how I will do that, I feel like I need to face this head on, and I know I’ve said that before, but I’m going to be looking for ways to address it.

Sinéad Burke, The Business of Fashion

Sinéad Burke, The Business of Fashion

The year was rounded off with a fantastic shoot I did with Sinéad Burke who was talking at the VOICES conference about the trouble she faces daily exploring her love of fashion. Standing at 3’ 5” she is not only poorly catered for but actually finds the shopping experience difficult and demeaning. She wanted to talk to the collected audience of fashion industry leaders about how this untapped audience was a opportunity that they were currently missing. We went to TopShop on Oxford St to take some sneaky shots of her walking through the store to illustrate how the displays of clothes were sometimes impossible for her to interact with. She was so lovely and we had a great time taking the pictures. You can see her talk here:

So after 2016 in New York, this year has been very different. My view of what my life was going to be has had to change dramatically over the past year and while there has had to be some significant sacrifices there has also been some interesting movement forward. 2018 is going to have to work on that and see where I can take my photography, I’m trying not to force it but some answers to why might just show me the door to the next level. Let’s see.


A new start in November by Ed Walker

An unpublished picture from 2016, Oxford Circus.

An unpublished picture from 2016, Oxford Circus.

Last December when I returned to London, I started going to Oxford Circus to shoot in the evening. I particularly liked a spot next to the Nike store which had a LED screen which was predominantly white and created perfect Rembrandt light for my subjects.

After a couple of weeks, Nike changed the ad on the screen and it was more intermittent light, which made taking the images go from difficult to impossible. So I moved to Piccadilly Circus and started shooting under the lights of the electronic billboards but my 1.8 lens just wasn’t up to the task. Those images went unpublished and most still do. I might include them in the finished project.

Oxford St, 2017

Oxford St, 2017

Fast forward to November 17, and after what has seemed like a very barren summer, I have just bought my Sigma f1.4 lens. For around an hour after work every evening I’ve started walking up and down Oxford Street and seeing what it can do, and it does pretty well. The shop fronts are all lined up for Christmas, spewing out light and with a lovely mixture of people leaving work and shoppers, it makes for an interesting little project.

Oxford Circus, 2017

Oxford Circus, 2017

I’m still not sure what the focus is going to be, at the moment I’m just shooting everything I see that I like, the final edit will probably reveal a pattern of what attracts my eye but for now, I’m not really being fussy.

Outside Top Shop, 2017

Outside Top Shop, 2017

It’s only been a week but already I have some interesting shots, but that’s just the start, I plan to shoot all the way up to Christmas, stay tuned.


Losing my mojo by Ed Walker

This year I’ve shot a tiny amount compared to 2016. This is because I came back to London in December and spent most of the early part of the year looking for a job, once I’d found one all of my concentration went into settling in and pouring all my creativity into the challenges it set me. So now in August, all I have to show for my year is a short, but successful project at Wimbledon Dogs and a few sporadic street photo’s taken over the summer months.

However, I could have shot many times since being back in London and I haven't and I am starting to think about what my photography means to me, how my time in New York affected my approach to my work and what am I trying to achieve with this?

There have recently been a few articles online talking about how the modern photography student can no longer perfect their technical and aesthetical skills and achieve success in their course. They need to have a concept, embody lots of meaning and have a 'thing' to now stand out of the thousands of graduates that pour into the field every year. Older photographers note that when they go to student shows the meaning is put before the execution. In street photography, there is a similar vein of truth with hundreds of thousands of people out there shooting. The togs who seem to gain popularity are the ones with a strong theme and novel approach to execution. Often the photos themselves are middling to average. I can think of at least two popular street photographers who have had successful shows with work that is interesting in its concept but with immature results.

So what does this have to do with me? Well, I feel really quite stuck in a rut of wanting to shoot in bright sunshine where I can position myself where people can walk into the light and I can shoot them against the shadows. It's limiting in the days I can shoot and it also makes me wonder what I'm trying to achieve. With so few days available to shoot, London being so sprawling and varied in its people my choice of subject is random at best. I've considered only visiting one area and concentrating on that but so far I've not found anywhere that gives me the right conditions and the right people and anyway, who am I looking for anyway?

A couple of years ago I wrote an angry post about how I didn't want to play the game that street photographers are forced into playing these days, chasing followers, being active in the community to elevate your status, becoming a teacher to fund your lifestyle, writing endless blog posts on the top tips for new street photographers and all the other typical ways people feed their habit. All I wanted to do is shoot but even now purely shooting doesn't feel enough. After spending every day walking the streets of New York, having enough time to properly explore the areas I wanted, find the people I was looking for and take my time soaking up the city now with a full-time job and limited energy, this is difficult.

So I'm looking for identifiable projects and it leads me back to the question, why? Why do I want to take candid pictures on the street and where and who do I want to shoot. What is the meaning of my work? Should I just hone my approach and keep doing that or should I try and nuance it with some novel type of person or specific place?

I suppose the answer to all those questions is yes because at the moment I'm doing nothing and there is nothing worse in photography than doing nothing.

I am thinking about abandoning my spotlight shots and going back to the night, especially as the evenings draw in. I've spied a 1.4 lens I want and getting out there to shoot using electronic billboards as lighting. But I'm concerned about my motivation, my desire to create this work and I really feel like I need a kickstart to get it going again. Any ideas?

Eatwell Farm Lavender Harvest 2017 by Ed Walker

Joyce stacking the Lavender in the drying shed at Eatwell Farm

Joyce stacking the Lavender in the drying shed at Eatwell Farm

I’m at my brothers’ farm at the moment, during my visit they have their annual Lavender harvest. Over the course of a weekend the farm crew use chainsaws to cut the lavender and place it on the top of the bushes and members of the CSA give their time to come and bunch and hang the lavender in the drying room. In return they get a weekend at the farm, fed and watered very well indeed and a camp fire with smores.

I shot the event using my Sony and 35mm lens and applied the same processing as usual but with added saturation to really make the lavender pop. Please share if you like and tell me what you think in the comments.

Stacks of newly cut Lavender.

Stacks of newly cut Lavender.

The crew cut the Lavender.

The crew cut the Lavender.

CSA members bunch the Lavender.

CSA members bunch the Lavender.

A CSA member bunched up Lavender.

A CSA member bunched up Lavender.

Bees buzz around the Lavender.

Bees buzz around the Lavender.

A CSA member bunches Lavender.

A CSA member bunches Lavender.

Lilly collects the bunches of Lavender for drying.

Lilly collects the bunches of Lavender for drying.

Cameron bringing the Lavender into the drying room.

Cameron bringing the Lavender into the drying room.

CSA members hang the Lavender.

CSA members hang the Lavender.

Lunch in the farm house.

Lunch in the farm house.



Campfire and the end of a long day.

Campfire and the end of a long day.

Half Way Through - Wimbledon Dogs by Ed Walker

I’ve been thinking of taking pictures of Dog Racing for a while. When I came back to the UK I kept reminding myself to look into it and it was only at the end of February that I actually did. I found out that Dog Racing in London was in it’s last days, Wimbledon Stadium was to be demolished and made into a new football ground. After it is gone, there will be no more Dog Racing in London.

That left four meetings until that world was gone forever so it is perfect for a mini project. I had never been to the dogs before, or even a horse race, so I had no idea what to expect. However, the pictures I could see online made it look perfect for my style of work and the lighting conditions seemed ideal.

I have just processed the pictures from the second week of visiting the stadium and I am half way through the project. So it seems a good time to get my initial thoughts down and record the progress.

Week one was simply a recce to see what it was all about and what kind of reception I would get taking pictures. In this kind of situation I tend to start long and get closer and closer until I get push back. There are two parts to the stadium, the inside and the outside. Inside there is a bar and restaurant and betting facilities. There are also benches which you can sit at and drink and face out the big windows to see the action. Underneath this indoor area is an extended bookmakers area but I have yet to explore this. Outside is the terrace? Paddock? I don’t know what it’s called but it’s where most people stand, drink, smoke and bet while they wait for the next race.

When the race starts the dogs are led out and are paraded along half the length of the first straight which is, I suppose, to let you have a good look at them and decide who to bet on. They are then walked back down the straight to the traps and the lights go down inside the stadium and on the outside crowd as the betting stops. The mechanical hare comes around the corner and when it has passed the traps the dogs are off. The race lasts 30 seconds if that. Sometimes there is a clear winner, but most of the time it’s not, which leads the crowd to turn around and look up at the screens inside the stadium and wait for the winner. Once this has been announced the bookies are back on paying out the winners and the process starts again for around 10-12 races in a night.

From my point of view the most engaging area of the whole event are the bookies who stand on boxes in front of their LED screens taking the bets and giving out winnings. The red light of the screens and the overhead lights that let them see what they are doing is just crack for my style of photography. Red light pours over the people lining up to bet and the bookies are perfectly lit against the darkness of the stadium. Harsh shadows and contrasty images are a plenty and I love it.

The crowd are a mixture of regulars, stag dos, work outings, families and couples. They are great subjects as they are socialising, betting, drinking and generally having a great time, most don’t even notice me taking pictures. The ones that do don’t seem to mind. I have yet to get really close and I’m still thinking about whether I should talk to people so I can get super close.

The first week I spent shooting the bookies, the dogs and a few of the crowd. The second week I spent most of my time getting crowd shots, there were a few groups of guys in vintage suits. I have a few good pictures of the dogs but I need a different camera to get the ultimate picture and I have been thinking about what I am going to try and achieve from the final two meets.

For the first time I’ve started thinking about narrative, something that has never possessed my work before. The observation has always been key to my work and even my car boot sale pictures didn’t tell a story. This feels different though, maybe it’s because it will soon be gone. The story is about the people, the bookies and the event, it’s about the night.

So I have started to think about a shot list, another first for me. Some shots I can see but haven’t been able to get. Others I know are there but haven’t seen or been able to visualise. An example of that is the wide crowd shot, all the images I’ve taken up and over the entire mass of people have been flat and mundane. From the side they are looking out to the track and from behind they are facing away from me. The shot is from the centre of the stadium looking across the track back at them looking at me, but I won’t get that. So I have to think of a way to capture them en mass, in action.

I am also thinking about what to do with the project when it is done. There is no shortage of photographers at the meetings so it’s clearly something that is a project for many other artists. Some of them will just post their pictures on Instagram, others might try and get them published, entered into comps or an exhibition. I am trying to think of a life for these pictures after the bookies, crowds and dogs have gone.

But in the meantime, I have two more meetings and aim to get the most out of them and complete what will be for me the shortest project I’ve ever done.

Saal-Digital Photo Book Review by Ed Walker

I recently saw an advert on facebook for a free photobook in return for a product review. I filled in the form and promptly received a voucher code and the instructions to post an honest review on my Facebook or Blog, so here it is.

The first port of call for any of these book printers is how you are going to make your book. The usual way is to provide their own software, which usually range from abysmal to awful. As a proficient user of InDesign I much prefer to be given templates to produce it in the software I know. The Saal-Digital website had only two options, download their software or use a web based system. I downloaded the software and feared the worst but in fairness it was relatively easy to use and no where near as bad as others I’ve struggled with.

I chose a 28x19 landscape book, glossy without padded cover which allowed me to have 30 pages within the £40 budget. There is no mention of paper weight anywhere within the software. My Spotlight series was all printed in high Gloss but you can choose all configurations of cover and inner finish.

Once finished you complete the transaction within the software and then leave it to upload all the images and everything went smoothly.

The book arrived about 4 days later in a cardboard sleeve and sealed in a plastic bag and the first impressions are excellent. The book is hardback bound and the cover is beautifully thick and well printed. I have used two other book printing companies before, Blurb and Bob Books and the Saal-Digital cover is a step up in quality.

The first and last spreads are bound to the cover which is obvious but when I opened the book I wasn't expecting it so it threw me slightly but what was really surprising was the thickness of the pages. I think these are the thickest pages I’ve ever seen in a photobook, they must be at least 350gsm. Printed with my almost black images on gloss they really feel superb and give the book a feel of quality I haven’t ever had from a photo book company. The pages also open flat, so if you wanted to bleed images across them they would look fantastic.

The image quality was superb, my pictures of people in New York against almost black background printed as good as the prints I had produced at Adorama and other professional printers. Deep colours, not too saturated and crystal clear.

So if you are looking for a premium photo book, and at £40 + P&P for 30 pages this is not for everyone, but if you are wanting to archive a project or give someone a very special present I would recommend Saal, I shall certainly be using them for my project books from now on. I might get some prints made too.

My Photography in 2016 by Ed Walker

New learning, new light and New York City were the main themes of 2016. I started the year in the USA and only briefly came back to the UK at the end of January, after that I spent an the rest of this intensive year concentrating on my street photography.

When I was thinking about how I was going to tackle NYC in early 2016 it was obvious that going back to school would probably be the best option. I took a course at International Center of Photography called 'New Colour Projects' headed by Christine Callahan. You can read my in depth blog post about it to find out more but it basically taught me two things, 1) Print your work and 2) Edit hard. For the course I created a pretty straight up street photography project. 

What happened next, under Christine's mentor-ship was far more surprising. On my way to class one day I shot a guy against a dark background, the sun was beating down the street and he was perfectly lit while the wall was in darkness. Then on a trip to Portland I also took a picture of a vintage girl walking across the street, again she was in direct sunlight while the background was in darkness. Thirdly I was on a trip to Governor's Island and took my 50mm lens, which I hadn't used in the while, and on the way back took some pictures in Wall Street of the people leaving work. Again in bright sunlight but with the 50mm on f1.8 the backgrounds were not only dark but out of focus. These three events accumulated into 'Spotlight' a project which in retrospect I'd been building up to since I first started shooting Borough Market in 2010.

Close up portraits of stylish, interested and sometimes eccentric people, all in bright sunlight but with a dark and 'bokeh' background. It was incredibly challenging, I spent around 250 hours over the summer months in midtown attempting to capture the right people at the right time in the right light.

Not happy with making my project as difficult as possible I decided to add another element to it. For a long time I've heard that to get by in the photography business you need to also do video. I'm not really interested in making movies and so I had tried to think about what I would do if I were to make a video. When I thought about the process of getting these pictures and the outcome it was clear that no one would be able to understand the time and effort that goes into it, so why don't I use video?

The result was not only shooting for 2-3 hours a day in 100 degrees fahrenheit but also having a chest strap, stabilizing gimbal and Gopro filming all that time too. Editing was a challenge and I had to learn lots of new skills in Adobe Premier and edit the movie a couple of times to get it right; but the finished item was worth it.

I entered my series into the LensCulture Street Photography Awards and became a finalist, it was a great honour and really cemented my view that I am headed in the right direction.

After Spotlight finished in September I took a break but also used the time to think about where I could go next with my work. I didn't want to just stop doing my Spotlight series as I felt it was so different to most other street work out there, but I wanted a new angle. So I set up a new Instagram account and started throwing up all sorts of experiments with focal length, lighting and location. By the end of November I had 15 shots which represented a new  project using a wider angle lens but using the same lighting.

So what a year! Full of learning and new experiences. I’m going to be moving forward and trying to capitalise on those things that have edged my photography forward in 2016 and try and add a new dimension in 2017.


New York Spaceships by Ed Walker

When you take a photo stood at the base of a skyscraper looking up and flip the photo 180 degrees; it looks like a Star Destroyer from Star Wars flying overhead. You also get a completely new perspective on buildings, the details, the scale and the textures are fascinating.

I took my first pictures in this ‘Spaceships’ project in London, 2011. I was working at IPC and their building has a very interesting shape and also fins all over it to regular heat and light. It looks like an abstract Sci-Fi mothership. I used to walk around it and into it every day and when I took a picture at its corner and flipped it the result was abstract, interesting and somehow epic. I took a few more pictures like it but left it at that.

Fast forward to New York 2016 and I’ve spent the summer shooting my Spotlight project and it has come to a close. The period of shift between major projects is hard, you kind of feel lost for a while. You know you needed to stop what you are doing but you don’t know what to do next. I’ve dealt with this by picking up small ‘throwaway’ projects that I’ve been meaning to do. Things like my shots of New York City Foodcarts, or my Classic cars shots but something I had been meaning to pick up again was the Spaceships. I only did 5 pictures in London and they were picked up by a blog at the time, so this must have legs!

The great thing about these pictures is that the subjects don’t move, they are ambivalent about having their picture taken and really the only thing you need is the weather. Finding good subjects is an interesting task. Something that looks great from 3 blocks away can disappoint at it’s base while a wonky weird building you didn’t even notice can have a structure and texture that makes for a great shot.

I imagine that they are different types of spaceships. From small freighters to enormous cruisers that we see in the opening sequences of Star Wars. They can be straight up with clean beautiful lines but others can be jagged and be under construction making them look like battered old pirate ships.

It’s been like a palette cleanser, something I can do that shifts your focus enough for it to be a rest for your creative mind. The result is actually something a great deal more interesting, architecture photography in New York is quite a thing and I hope, with this project, to add a slightly different and new perspective to the buildings that make up this city.

You can see the rest of the ongoing project here

Roy DeCarava and me by Ed Walker

What I love about Roy DeCarava’s work is that his pedigree in painting and printmaking is evident in his work through his use of light. He understood print and ink and how that can be used on paper to convey light. His works are geometric, use bright foreground lights and at other times very dark with only minimal details. This shows an understanding of how this will be represented on the final print of the image, he is thinking about the end result as he is shooting the picture.

His work of jazz musicians is striking and grabs the light with both hands to use it in the most inventive was possible. He represents his subjects in silhouette with harsh lights behind them, he is creating a screen printed poster of an artist just as much as he is creating a photograph. His composition is already thinking about typography, even though none appears.

And yet in other shots he uses the light in it’s most minimal way possible, just capturing enough to show you the scene and nothing more; the players are sinking into darkness.

His subway shots can be dark and foreboding, same with his street portraits of Harlem. People peek out of shadows and barely reveal themselves.

Another aspect I love is his approach of concentrating the meaning and visual language into a wonderfully tight, rich image. This is not a documentary photographer showing you life and how it really is. This is an image maker telling a story with just about the right amount of light, in just the right place to inform, leaving the rest of the space to sit in luxurious, thick darkness. Sometimes street photographers criticise shallow depth of field images as out of context with the street and not honestly showing the reality. It’s clear that Roy DeCarava would have dismissed that as nothing to do with what makes a great image.

After shooting a summer of work with people in the spotlight, I’m draw to this approach, looking at the darkness and also looking into dark spaces where people are. Isolation and quiet are where my camera is being led at the moment.

As the nights draw in I’m drawn to shooting at dusk and only using the lights of the city to create images that allow people to sit within the darkness. I’m currently experimenting with the silhouettes that the setting sun creates, the doorways where people stop and storefronts which boom light out onto the dark street.

It’s a completely different time and space to where I have been for the past 6 months but the result should hopefully be a continuation of where I’ve been with similar themes, it’s interesting how something so different can also be the same.


Spotlight 1 - a street photography video by Ed Walker

For a very long time I’ve had an idea for a video based on my street photography. When I shoot I always listen to music, often electronic, so the streets have their own soundtrack.  

When you watch street photography videos online they are usually made by two people, a street photographer and someone following them shooting the action. I didn’t want to do this because I shoot alone and also I wanted the video from my point of view.

I started experimenting late last year but found it technically difficult because of the shaky movement you get when you walk. I tried to clip a Go Pro to my bag and hold it tight with my left hand while I shoot with my right but it got in the way, it was simply too much to think about. What I needed was a system I could completely forget about. I went looking for something that would keep the camera steady but I could strap to myself and film without getting in the way of my stills camera.

Eventually I discovered the Feiyu Tech FY-WG 3-Axis Wearable Gimbal which I bought and promptly bricked trying to update the firmware. After returning it to China and getting it fixed I bought a chest strap and started walking the streets with it.

The difference between filming with it and without it is night and day. While it certainly isn’t perfect it lets me shoot without worrying about the footage I’m going to get. It’s a pretty fragile piece of kit and is easily sent into a tail spin but for the price it does the job beautifully.

Editing was very much trial and error. In early trails my edits were far too long. I wanted to evoke the busy sprawling chaos of Midtown. Fast cuts set to music allowed me to cherry pick the moments when something interesting happened and unusual people came into view. Initially when I cut to the photograph I held it for much longer. Cyndi suggested that they should be shorter and also cut back to the person walking past me. This not only gave the image context but it allowed you to see their reaction as they left the frame.

I’m very happy with the result. It’s exactly as I imagined when I came up with the idea over two years ago in London. It’s a great addition to my Spotlight series and I hope it gives people an insight into what I’m doing and how I capture my images.

You can see Spotlight here

Bruce Davidson and me by Ed Walker

Bruce Davidson’s series on the New York Subway in the 70’s is spectacular, I really wish I’d discovered it sooner…

I always consider when I started shooting people on the London Underground to be the single most important moment in my photography. Up until that point I had been taking pictures of Borough Market and general street work. The shot of the girl in headphones on the Victoria Line forever changed the way I shot people and brought be directly to where I am now, so it’s amazing that I had never came across Bruce Davidson’s Subway series.


Shot in the 1970’s when the New York Subway was covered in graffiti and was a significantly more dangerous place to travel, his work is visceral and exciting and you feel genuinely scared for his well being. Reading the introduction to his book and listening to him talk you realise that it was through his calm and measured manner that he achieved the shots he did.


Most of the time he asked permission before he took a picture, showing them a wedding album full of prints, with only odd occasions where he would shoot before speaking to them. Even then, he would speak to them afterwards and explain what his project was about. Travelling long distances, and often during the night, it’s amazing he only got mugged a couple of times, and even that didn’t put him off.


It raises two issues for me. Firstly, my desire to shoot on the Subway myself. How can I bring something different when this iconic work has clearly achieved everything it set out to do with the Subway of the 1970’s? Today it is a very different place. Dramatically cleaned up, it is a much safer place to be, so finding an angle on how to represent it would be a challenge.


Secondly, it poses the question - would I change my approach? I currently shoot on the streets of New York while I listen to music and never speak to the people I take pictures of. On the bustling streets this isn’t an issue but on the small crowded subway cars I really don’t know if this is an approach I can take.

It’s been something I have considered for a long time. There is even a course at ICP about street portraiture which tackles the issues regarding approaching people and asking to take their picture. I’ve always thought that the way I shoot is deeply ingrained in who I am, my work, and the comment I’m making, so to turn that on it’s head is scary.

Electronic Sound Magazine - Vince Clarke by Ed Walker

I have been unbelievably fortunate to meet some amazing musicians whilst working for Electronic Sound Magazine. Up and coming stars like Karin Park and LoneLady as well as synth pop God Gary Numan, but the most personally affecting one for me was Vince Clarke from Depeche Mode, Yazoo and Erasure.

Growing up in the eighties my music of choice was acts like New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode and Erasure. All synth pop titans. So it was an absolutely pleasure to be asked to go to Vince Clarke’s Brooklyn home to take pictures for an article about his collaboration with Paul Hartnoll of Orbital.

When Neil Mason from ES mag contacted me he said we would be going into Vince’s Synth Dungeon and he wasn’t wrong. Wood panelled and completely fitted to house dozens of synths and other electronics, it was quite a sight. A table sat in the middle with his computer on and lots of spot lights all around, it really couldn’t have been a more perfect setup to shoot one of my musical heros.

If you’ve read the other blog posts about how I approached shooting the other artists for Electronic Sound you’ll know they are a mixture of pure terror and completely flying by the seat of my pants. This time I was more prepared.

The writer I was working with was Mat Smith ( and I asked him if this time he could do the interview before we take the pictures. The reason for this was on previous shoots I’ve usually hung around after I’ve taken the pictures and listened to the writer speak to the artist and for some reason (probably because I’m not yet that skilled at warming up my subjects) I’ve felt that after listening to them answer some questions about their work, I could take much better pictures of them.

So this time I sat and listened while Mat talked to Vince. It was also a good opportunity to take come pictures of the synths and of his conversation with Paul Hartnoll who was on Skype.

The other thing I did differently was bring my personal photography style much more to the forefront. I’ve been shooting people in bright sunlight against dark backgrounds in Manhattan and I really wanted to see how I could, in some way, replicate that in a studio setting. I showed Vince my work and we switched off all the lights and just used a small studio light I’d brought with me and tried to get a similar result. It was somewhat successful, I suffered from the usual problem is trying to do everything way too quickly and not purposefully slowing myself down. I feel like the subject is getting really bored but I completely forget that someone like Vince Clarke has sat in many photography studios and me taking twenty minutes instead of ten is no sweat. This is key in my next shoot.

The experience was fantastic, the shots were good and it was amazing to meet the architect of so much of my favourite music. I’d love to do it again and take a lot more time over it, but that’s all part of the learning process.

Get your copy at

Garry Winogrand and me by Ed Walker

When Christine said I was the son of Winogrand, apart from the astonishing compliment of being compared to one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century, I actually realised I didn’t know a great deal about him. When I started to look at his work, watch interviews and read about his life, a man appeared who had a startlingly similar ethos towards photography as me.

Born in New York, in the Bronx in 1928 he spent two years in the army after High School and then went to study painting at Columbia University. Whilst there he was introduced to a 24 hour dark room by a fellow student and never looked back. Still living with his parents he escaped home by walking around the streets and shooting, scraping money together to develop and print. This was a man with a clear vocation and he found it early. From then on he was a photographer, working in editorial with a brief stint in advertising before devoting himself to his personal work.

The most interesting thing for me about his work is that he clearly doesn’t know why he is making it, he just is compelled to. Not only that, but he doesn’t care to know why he is compelled to make it, just that he is. When I was going through a bad patch in London I spoke to Gina Glover of Photofusion and she asked me “Do you have to take these pictures? If you do, then you will” It’s something that has stuck with me and drives me on when the pictures aren’t coming. When you watch Winogrand being interviewed it’s clear he has no interest in the lofty theory of what he is doing, saying time and time again that the only thing that is important are the pictures.

I love his New York street photography of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Sheer energy. Visceral and combative. Shots are presented at weird angles that are often used to squash as much into the frame as possible. There is enormous movement and people are clearly aware of his presence. This goes right to the heart of what I am trying to achieve. My work is directly related to my difficulties relating to people and I can feel it with Garry’s work too.

His most famous quote is ‘I take pictures to see what things look like photographed’ and I can really identify with that, as a designer I am fascinated by how we can use photography to capture a two dimensional copy of the real world and how that changes it, especially people.

He shot what he saw but it’s clear that that isn’t the whole story, failed relationships and a disorganised life must have coloured his shot selection and edits. In quotes he appears to be quite a pessimistic character but the people that knew him say differently, I think this contradiction is evident in his work which sometimes takes the form of visual jokes and jibes at the world.

The most astonishing part of Winogrand's story are the tens of thousands of unprocessed films and hundreds of thousands of unedited pictures. This is something that I cannot understand. For me the processing and editing are as important as the shooting, it’s all part of the story. When asked about his enormous backlog and chaos he said ‘I have no filing system, I’m helpless’.

However this doesn’t take away from his amazing achievements. He moved photography forward and created an aesthetic that at once looked casual but at the same time incredibly calculated and precise. His detractors used a term he hated - ‘Snapshot Aesthetic’ - but he argued that a snapshot was rigid and prescribed like a family photo. His work was fluid, always changing and moving. The narrative didn’t seem important to him, it was a moment captured between four edges. I am very sad I never got to meet him, I really think we would have got along famously.

Spotlight and Ray Metsker by Ed Walker

One of the highlights of last year’s trip to New York was this picture.

Shot against the background of a street in shadow it captured this gent in perfect isolation. Every hair, wrinkle and fold in his coat caught with what must be the ultimate spotlight, the Sun.

It was very different from the rest of the pictures I was taking, usually straight on and often I wouldn’t be satisfied unless the subject and I had eye contact. This was quiet, solitary.

When I took the New Colour Projects course at International Center of Photography in February it was a picture I showed at the start of the course. However my usual type of shot quickly became the focus of the project I completed throughout the 5 weeks only coming back when I created my final piece.

In week 4 I shot this picture, the sun behind me and walking up 7th Avenue. Because of the angle of the light and the dark background it achieved a somewhat similar result and again it peeked my interest, it felt different.

Then in the last week on my way to the class I grabbed this shot but I never showed it or published it as it was simply too different to everything else, but again, on this new theme.

After the course I went to Seattle and didn’t get much chance to shoot but grabbed a couple of shots one of which again felt like a relation to those previous shots and it was becoming clear that there was something in this that I needed to explore explicitly.

When I had organised to meet up with Christine Callahan for some private mentoring sessions I only had a few shots to show. So on a visit to Governors Island, where I had switched my lens from my usual 35mm to my 50mm I grabbed some pictures in Wall St. It was late afternoon and the sun was really strong. The bottom of Manhattan is not on a grid like the rest of the island, it’s a crisscross of streets and perfect for isolating the Sun with backgrounds in shadow.

So this was now a thing, when I showed the shots to Christine she recommended I look at Ray Metzker. Studying in the 1950’s at the Institute of Design in Chicago. His early work comprised of darkroom composites, multiple exposures and collage, often compiling them in camera with bits of paper he introduced to the scenes he was photographing. However during that time he also took high contrast shots of cityscapes with people bathed in light while the rest of the shot was in almost complete darkness.

You can see the rest of the images here:

These works really speak to me, there is a loneliness of a city and quite possibly nowhere like New York. With so many people usually split between residents at work and tourists it’s loud and brash but many people seem alone, trying to get to where they are going and Metsker’s work takes those people and singles them out, gives them a spotlight.

When I think about my work I’ve been attempting to do something similar all along. My original shots of women on the London Tube were so close there was very rarely anyone else in shot, then subsequently the shots I’ve been taking use shallow depth of field to pull individuals out from the crowd. They say photography is a mirror so make of that what you will.

With all that in mind I shot these picture this week.  My work before was difficult enough - finding the people, being in the right spot and grabbing a fleeting moment - now I have to find all of that but with the perfect lighting.  It’s a hard life ;)

New Colour Projects at International Center of Photography School by Ed Walker

So for the past 5 weeks I’ve been taking the New Colour Projects course at The School of the International Center of Photography tutored by Christine Callahan. I haven’t done a photography course since I learnt how to shoot on manual with Dave Hodgkinson back in the dark ages of 2009.

Christine’s course jumped out at me because I’m not interested in learning technical skills or any kind of processing or printing skills.  What I’m most interested in is where I take my work and how to form a cohesive project. Even though from the description I had no idea what to expect, I decided to jump in and take her course.

There were 6 students and from the get-go it was clear that this was going to be about looking, critiquing and editing. Something that was terrifying at first, but eventually became incredibly liberating was we were not allowed to present our work. Instead, we put it up on the screen or wall and the group discussed it without us saying where, when, how or why we took the pictures. It was a technique which set the work free, and it was masterful.

The first week was about our past work that had brought us to the course. Fifteen images of our choosing. I selected the best from London, some of my Car Boot Sale images, a couple of the St Pancras Piano and a few from my short time in New York.

The second week we were asked to go and shoot fifteen more, bring them in, and project them on the screen.

But it was the third week that things really changed.  The assignment was to go away and shoot 36 pictures and get them printed at 4” x 6”.  Not only do I very rarely print my work, but also, my output hardly ever exceeds 10-15 pictures in a week. It was actually a quite stressful assignment, but it forced me to be more proactive and also actually start a project I had been thinking about for a while.


When you come to New York there is something on the streets you cannot miss, they are everywhere and they are all the same but all different. There doesn’t seem to be a specific name for them, so I nominally call them Street Food Carts. They are most interesting at night because they have lights, big scrolling text displays and the menu sprawled all over the front of the cart.

So I took 15 pictures of the carts and pulled together 21 images from my street work. In my last blog post I had just discovered 7th Avenue and so I’ve been revisiting that area every day around lunchtime and it proved to be a great basis for my project.

I turned up for class armed with 36 pictures that I thought were pretty good, and the first thing Christine says after confirming we had taken 36 shots was, “Okay, now put 15 on the wall”. Holy shit. Everyone looked at each other and you could tell we were all thinking the same thing...we slogged to get 36 pictures at all!  As it turned out, this was simply the first stage in getting us to edit our work. There was one olive branch, she looked through our rejects and rescued the ones she thought were good.

I ended up with maybe 18 images on the board. This was interesting in two ways. Firstly  I don’t print my work so the only way I usually see it is one after another on a screen, in contrast, Christine’s method gives you a view that allows you to compare and contrast; a new experience. Secondly, not only had I chosen the first edit, the group then went through them and edited them further. Now, as Christine said, we have the power of veto because it’s our project, but I only really used it a couple of times because this was new and it was exciting to work like this. As they say, “kill your darlings” so I generally went with the group consensus.

The fourth week was the same with the only difference being that we brought in the previous week’s edit and displayed it next to the new images. At the end of the session we were also asked to talk about how we thought we would like to package the collection.  An exhibition? A book? A zine? I talked about an idea I had been thinking about where I would blow the images up to life-size which would mean each print would end up being a different size. So I was set the task to take one of my images and print it life size for the final week’s critique.


I decided to print the image of the lonely man, which is the first image on my website. I measured the width of my head and worked out the percentage increase and blew the image up and it ended up at 51” by 32”. Not small. I chose Duggal to get it printed which is on 23rd street and after looking at the example prints they had in the shop decided to have a Digital C-Print on Glossy.


In the final week we displayed our final prints and I also printed up some of the images that I had shown on the first week that I felt should be part of the project. I also had a couple of new shots and as before I put up the entire collection, old and new. The set came to 30 images and I asked the group to lose ten pictures and this final edit forms the collection on my site called “New York Street Photography Winter 15/16”. I’ve only added a couple of images I forgot to print up for the class edit, but that I feel should be in the set.


So, in the end, this experience has changed me significantly.  Not only have I met some great photographers, been forced to get it together and produce a lot more work than I am used to, but it’s taught me to be even more laser-focussed on what makes a good project. I’m confident that the images that were discarded for this project will rise again in another one, and the experience has given me lots of new ideas. It’s also taught me that when Dave Hodgkinson said ‘A picture is not a photograph until it’s printed’  As much as I hate admitting it...he is absolutely right ;)