Tag Archives: hackney

Failing to Shoot a Riot

NB : This is not a discussion of cause and effect, nor potential remedies. It is merely the ramblings of a young photographer who wants desperately to learn

All of us saw the disturbing scenes broadcast last week. I am sure, then, that the images below are not new, nor are they at all comprehensive. There is little of the flame and fire and unfortunate episodes of looting that have so aptly characterised the UK riots. These omissions frustrate me for now the following images show nothing of the ‘Broom army’, vigilantes, politicians nor those who have lost homes, businesses and cars. They are two hours and two hours only.

Last week’s episode ducked and dived at an extraordinary pace. Keeping up with events was a nightmare; respected news outlets were finding the same difficulties. Twitter had turned into a bird bath of uncensored and, in some cases, rather inflammatory rubbish. According to some tweeters, the Olympic Stadium was engulfed in flames, and to others, the relatively ‘normal’ sound of sirens meant only death and destruction and rioting. Making sense of such public hysteria was made increasingly difficult by the the number of actual flashpoints across the city – and their distance from each other. A car or motorbike was needed and I have neither – yet.

Another facet of my failure – and this is of the greatest significance to me – was the ability to immerse oneself into a seemingly merciless environment. One slip could lead – and in some cases did – to a rather swift and brutal relinquishing of hard-earned equipment. Perhaps even a bashing would result. In any case, the weighing-up of what you hope to achieve by shooting in these environments would always be contrasted against what you are willing to endure. A far more extreme example can be found amongst servicemen and women; neither wish for disfigurement or death but all are willing to take that risk – knowingly or not (?) – in the pursuit of dreams, aspirations and excitement. This was my first ‘dangerous’ environment and I, selfishly or not, wanted to test myself – to see if I could still work under duress.

I arrived on the north side of Hackney Central at 1600. My house is 10 minutes up the road and I have lived in Hackney for three years now. I am very fond of the area. On Monday it was neither homely nor accessible. Initially, I followed a group of riot police about 25 strong. They were understandably anxious and a little on edge. Having realised that I wouldn’t get onto Mare Street, I doubled back and headed towards Clarence Road. It was bizarre. Up the road was a largely balaclava-clad mob that had set up a series of barricades to hinder police movement. They were gearing up for the troubles soon to ensue.

Within 15 minutes of arriving, I bumped into another photographer who appeared more experienced than myself (a simple task in this situation). I followed him to shoot a few photos of fortress Clarence and its occupiers. We moved to within about 20 metres of the burning bins and immediately received a volley of missiles. I dashed to take cover behind some riot vans only to find myself quickly moved away by police. I got back on Clarence Road and there I remained for two hours or so. Had it not been for some very worried friends, I am convinced that I would have stayed. I chose to shoot with a small 50mm and wore scruffy clothes. In light of the obvious atmosphere towards photographers, it was clear that discretion and timing were necessary to avoid a bashing. It was a risk I felt compelled to take and my premature return to safety left me restless, frustrated and slightly on edge. Next time…he says.*

* There is so much to be said about ‘why’ you would or wouldn’t want to watch or simply be around the destruction of people’s livelihoods and outbursts of primal rage. There is most definitely something to be said about witnessing history in the                                                                making – however nauseating that expression can be. These riots are significant. Perhaps something positive can result – or at least be better understood.

What played out in Hackney and other parts of the city and country last week was extreme. It had to be covered and I hope that the images and videos recorded will remain and remind.

Some interesting links:

Jonesblog – a great blog 

All That Life Can Afford – photo essay

The Psychology of Looting – Guardian piece

Dave Hill’s blog on the riots – Guardian

Riot police make their way to Mare Street, Hackney

A father and son watch riot police rush to Mare Street. (re-edit)

North end of Mare Street, Hackney.

Clarence Road, Hackney. This was taken 10 minutes before the chaos

Residents, Clarence Road, Hackney

Hurling a bottle at police about 15m away

The police are only 15m away - and 10-or-so in number

“If you want to understand democracy, spend less time in the library with Plato, and more time in the buses with people.”

Simeon Strunsky

Guardian photo coverage

The riots

The clean-up

The aftermath

Police raids and politicians 

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Festival of the Bicycle, Mabley Green

Welcome to a sun-filled Sunday and bicycles. Yesterday saw Festival of the Bicycle play out on Mabley Green, Homerton. It was a great and eventful afternoon of racing, posing and entrepreneurial excitement.

I am particularly fond of this area. Having spent a super two years here, it was good to be back.

Oh, and I am now horrifically rose-red and my face feels a little warm.

Labour MP Meg Hillier opens the festival


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City and Angel

Earlier this month I faced my first editorial beginner bashing. I somehow believed that I was meeting only the designer to discuss a photo feature on Old Spitalfields Market. This just wasn’t the case, and I soon found myself before a handful of faces, eager to suss me out.

Sat in a small, sweltering glass cage, I fast realised that this was an interview – and I didn’t have my portfolio. Really quite the error that pitched me against the chief photographer. As I was soon to discover, this bloke was only teaching me a few harsh, but very necessary lessons. In the meanwhile, he tore me to shreds. Scary and exciting.

And thank you very much Zest Media. I am now a freelancer for City and Angel magazine.

Here are a few photos for the Spotlight article on Old Spitalfields Market:

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Welcome again to the supper club.

This weekend Edward and Xenia, Amelia and I, fed and watered 18 guests. It was a mammoth task and the atmosphere in the kitchen was tangible. That said, we got them fed, we got them watered and no one complained – be them too polite or not!

A fusion of Aztec and Mexican cuisine was the order of the soiree. It was exciting, fresh and full of oomph.

The names of dishes will be up shortly*

If interested and think you’d like to join us one evening, do click here.


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The Persian palate

This has been our largest supper club to date; perhaps even our most successful.

Thirteen came to dine with us and what an evening it was. The machine ran smooth, without jitters. Xenia excelled herself yet again, Ed was a delight as always, and Amelia, well, her cake making and sweet baking polished off the soiree perfectly.

We also had some special guests. Food and Travel magazine came to visit and left with smiles aplenty.

Welcome again to Ed & Xenia’s Supper club, and enjoy ‘The Persian Palate’

Edward and Xenia

Introspective Amelia

Happy days

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Join the club

I have two friends, or at least I live with two friends.

Meet Xenia von Oswald. She is 24, German, and a food stylist.

Now let me introduce Edward Campbell, 23, Australian, and a connoisseur of the finest things in life – mainly edible.

Together they are two and one, and then a supper club – E&X. A most entertaining duo, their combined culinary powers have certainly not been lost amongst the abounding dramas of cohabiting. If anything, they have been refined and strengthened – and to a deceptively high standard. This parallel penchant for food has developed into a supper club capable of pulling some serious weight. I am truly enthralled to form some part of it – as the ‘staff photographer’ of course.

And they create the most fantastic food.

Xenia cooks; Edward entertains, delivers and pours. And lest I forget dearest Amelia, for if it wasn’t for her baking excellence and lively hands, our lives here on Amhurst Road would be all-the-more taxing.

Now take a seat, recline, and ‘Get back to your roots’

Oh, and welcome to our humble abode:

Student and lecturer; Amelia and Xenia


Beetroot falafel mix

Beetroot falafel


Salad of Raw Root Vegetables and Herbs Vinaigrette

Hello Edward


7 hour Lamb Shank with Matchstick Straw Potatoes, roast swede and a serving of Yoghurt, Rocket and Horseradish sauce


Beetroot Chocolate Cake infused with Fresh Ginger and a side of cream


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Queen of Hoxton Exhibition

All photos are under copyright and belong to George P Ramsay

It must have been early last year, perhaps even the year before that; I must find out in any case. A friend, Hunter Skipworth, and I were asked to shoot twenty photographs for a new bar, the Queen of Hoxton, found between Bishopsgate and Hoxton.

I’d never been so fortunate before this, and I became rather unstuck in the preparation for the opening night. It was a tough deadline. That said, despite the problematic mounting of the photos on the wall and all others worries, it was great fun  – and highly rewarding.

We decided to shoot both in black and white and colour.I took the black and white, and this is the result (some of which I am unsure, but we were only novices).

They are still on show and are available to purchase.

Homerton Grove, Hackney

Pinball Geoff, Stoke Newington

Mr Barry P, Aldgate East - notice the Gherkin through the window

Perfect Fried Chicken, Homerton, Hackney

Celestial Pastor, Hackney Downs

Hackney Downs

South American butcher, Mare Street, Hackney

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