Royal Week …

Had quite an eventful short week in London covering the mayhem involved with the Royal Wedding. It was a really good time and maybe for the first time in my life, after numerous trips to that city, I left with an appreciation of our Anglo friends. Maybe because it was an exceptional week in the city, maybe because there were a lot of visitors from other places or maybe it was something else … I didn’t really care; it was a great few days.

Gentlemen on a Carriage on Whitehall

Here’s a rambling account of some of my time experiences in the city:

The trip started with an easy 2 hour and 20 minute Eurostar ride from Gare du Nord in Paris, through the “chunnel” and arriving at St Pancras Station in London.

Gare du Nord

Thanks to a very kind friend, I stayed in an upscale apartment in the Chelsea area, just a few minutes walk from Harrod’s department store.

The Street My Apartment Was On - Lennox Gardrens

My first mission was to connect with my agency’s London photographer so I took the tube to Covent Garden (yes, many places in London sound familiar thanks to the Monopoly board!) and met Hugo, our local guy. He took me to a very cool members-only club in the middle of the city that was set up by former Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen as a professional and social hub for people in film, tv, art, journalism, fashion, etc. We had a tasty lunch and when Hugo wanted to take a cigarette break outside on a small terrace, I joined him. There was a man and a woman sitting out there and when we entered the terrace, the guy turned around and said “aren’t you going to say hello?” By total chance, he was an actor who was an acquaintance of mine from Paris who had moved to London a few years back. Gotta love “small-world” randomness.

Sign in the Elevator in the Club

A week before coming to London, I hurt my knee playing tennis. I had been taking some Aleve and it had been working well. I used up my supply and unfortunately in France, Aleve (naproxen) is only available with a prescription. So in London, I stopped into a pharmacy (chemist) and asked if they had any naproxen. The head pharmacist asked what it was for and I told her it was for my knee. She looked confused and took out a big black book and said she’d never heard of using naproxen for a knee. Evidently in England, this drug is only approved for women’s menstrual cramping. Well, after some debating, I got my Feminax and got out of there.

A couple places worth mentioning. Near Liverpool Street Station, I stumbled upon a modern and well-designed market area called Spitalfields Market. A really nice place to walk around with tons of good food to eat. I opted for the designer Indian food served in a Japanese bento box. Delicious.

Indian Bento Box - Spitalfields Market

I continued on towards the Shoreditch area where earlier I had seen a photo of a big wall mural which said “Don’t Hate on Kate”. I wanted to get a photo of the wall with some people passing in front of it. I navigated my way over there and when I arrived, two guys had literally just 15 minutes before my arrival painted over the “Kate” part of the wall, which of course ruined any potential for a photo. The paint was still wet. I had to laugh at my luck.

Don't Hate On ...

From there, I wandered around Brick Lane, a wonderfully eclectic and hip area with some second-hand stores, beigel shops (What the hell are beigels? They are not bagels) and some very cool graffiti art. As I continued walking down the street, it slowly morphed into Indiatown, with lines of Indian restaurants with men outside them trying to coax you to come in and eat. Highly recommended area to saunter in.

Second-Hand Store - Brick Lane

Beigel Shop - Brick Lane

Squirrel Graffiti - Shoreditch

One evening after finishing dinner with a colleague, we were standing with our cameras at the end of my street saying goodnight when a car pulled up abruptly, rolled down the window and in a barely-understandable accent said “hey paparazzi, who you waitin’ for?” We said we’re not paparazzi and we weren’t waiting for anyone. He said “you’re waiting for Carpacho, id’n it?” We didn’t know what he was talking about so after repeating “id’n it?” a few more times, he explained the head coach for one of the football teams lived right next door and this guy was convinced we were trying to paparazzi the guy. We had a good laugh.

While I was out looking to make some photos, I was walking down Oxford Street and came across a Selfridges Department store with a large group of people crowded around it. The store had decorated one of its large window displays as a royal room, complete with extravagant decorations and live actors wearing masks with each of the most well-known royals on them. The actors were hamming it up and having a good time in the window display. I talked the security guard into letting me go into the window and shoot a few shots of the actors. They were really funny and poking fun at all things royal as they lifted their champagne glasses and toasted/roasted William and Kate.

Actors in Department Store Window - Oxford Street

Another area I quite enjoyed was just outside of London in a place called Parsons Green. It seemed like a yuppie-ish kind of area but not in an annoying way. My colleagues and I grabbed a pint at a local pub and drank it out in their beer garden, all the while taking in large amounts of smoke from their adjacent burger-grilling bbq. Had dinner at another traditional-looking pub with an “updated” menu; for example, I had some butternut squash with vanilla bean soup as a starter.

When I first got my assignment for the wedding day, I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t be shooting at Westminster Abbey or at Buckingham Palace. Those were the most important places to be on the wedding day. But my assignment seemed like it had the potential to be a lot of fun – to cover the people of London celebrating and enjoying the wedding. And the best place to do that on the day was Hyde Park.

Boy with Flag - Hyde Park

I got an early start and was out the door by 6:30am. I rode a public bicycle to Hyde Park and was SO thankful the rain called for never came; the overcast sky actually made taking photos much easier. The ambiance at the park was electric, even at 7am. I was expecting there to be an element of hooliganism but really, everyone seemed like they were intent on enjoying themselves. Lots of drinking, champagne, beer, etc but I shot for over 6 hours and didn’t see any troublemakers. The park eventually filled up with, by some estimates, over 300,000 people with most of them wearing or carrying a union jack somewhere on their person. It made for a beautiful sea of red, white and blue.

Sea of Red, White & Blue - Hyde Park

I shot until the royal couple said “I do” (or whatever they said) and when they headed to Buckingham Palace, I fought the enormous crowd and got a bicycle and rode back to the apartment to file my images. It was a great ride because all the streets in the area were closed to traffic so I had the whole street to myself. When the kiss happened on the balcony, and the jets did their fly-by, they went right over my apartment a few seconds later. It was a nice effect hearing it on TV and live simultaneously.

Watching on Big Screens (each screen was over 1000 sq ft!) - Hyde Park

I did a few hours of editing, captioning and sending and my day was done. I forgot all about the original disappointment I felt in my assignment for the day; it turned out to be much more fun roaming around Hyde Park than having to stand for 6 hours stuck in one spot on the photographers’ rafters in front of the Abbey or the Palace.

If you have any interest in the goings-on in the park, in making fun of British people or just seeing some (hopefully) entertaining images, click HERE to watch a 3.5 minute video (with music) of my images from the day.

Here’s a tribute of sorts to royalty that I’ve enjoyed over the years:

Some photos of the week:

Wind - Hyde Park

They Found the Perfect Guy For This Guy Didn't They - Shoreditch


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Fred Silpa on May 1, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    David, best blog yet…Great shots and the video was inspiring…By the way did you notice that in the name of the Spitalfield Market, the first 6 letters contain your last name if you unscramble it…Since it comes from London they through in the “t”…The second baseman


  2. Posted by Tracey on May 3, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Love, love, love all the pics!!!!! What an incredible uplifting feeling. Just watching it on the tube was exciting, but can’t imagine being there !!!!
    Your blogs make my day. Thanks “All Dave” :))


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