Puttin’ on the Ritz

Cambridge is a great little city, but sometimes it is good to step out of the bubble. Yesterday Joanna Vymeris and I took the ten o’clock train to London. Our plan was to do some dance photography in famous locations around the city. We started at Piccadilly Circus, and then proceeded on foot from there passing a series of famous landmarks and making a few stops at museums. The National Gallery and McDonalds provided us with food throughout the day. In the afternoon we were joined by Helen Simmons at Tate Modern.

We walked past this big glass window, and the reflection caught my attention so I asked Joanna if she could jump in front of it. I like how the red dress makes Joanna stand out against the grey and black background.
Our plan was to make many short stops along the way, to get as much variation as possible in the photos. Here Joanna is standing in the middle of the street. We stopped at this location because of the facade of the building behind her, but the photo we ended up picking ironically had a bus covering the buidling.
The sun came out of the cloud cover, and made interesting patterns on the floor for Joanna to pose in. I exposed the photo for Joanna, making the background fairly dark. Her upraised arm was in the shadows so I brightened it in Photoshop.
The two mannequins were flanked by the glass door, and I thought it would look great to have Joanna there, so we went into the store to ask if we could possibly take a photo, and they were happy to let us.
The Ritz!
One more photo from outside the Ritz. I feel there is a story here, with the security guard walking with his walkie-talkie and Joanna hiding behind the phone booth.
Walking through the Green park. The red colour of Joanna nicely complements the green leaves in the background.
There are some great statues at Buckingham Palace.
Striking a pose outside the National Gallery.
Doing a photo shoot in the National Gallery you have to be a bit discrete so you do not call attention to yourself. The painting the Ambassadors by Holbein in the background behind Joanna.
Joanna in front of The Fighting Temeraire by Turner.
Backlit photos in windows look great. Here exposing for Joanna making the sky in the window almost completely blown out. As we were leaving one of the museum attendants with a walkie-talkie could be heard saying “They are leaving. I am not sure what they were doing.”
A snapshot outside the museum before we continued. Our plan was to only do a few photos at each place, otherwise the risk is that you spend a disproportionate amount of time in one location and get very similar looking photos.
I forgot to mention that there were four lions outside the National Gallery, flanking Lord Nelson on all sides.
This is how we cross a zebra crossing in style.
West Minister Abbey and Parliament. I was playing with the exposure here, to see what it would look like if I overexposed the photo.
On the South bank, making our way towards Tate Modern. Here Joanna is posing in front of Big Ben.

Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!


We passed a skateboard nest and took some photos with the graffiti in the background. In a lot of jumping photos her hair tended to fly around, but here it just shaped itself perfectly to frame Joanna’s head.
Graffiti makes artists happy.
One last floating photo in the skateboarder’s nest before we continued. I like how the lines in the background fit with the angles of Joanna’s arms.
Finally we arrived at Tate Modern. This is the huge turbine hall.
Joanna, the Shard and some tiny little building. I saw the two buildings next to each other and thought it would look fun to have Joanna dwarf them.
A photo from the balcony of the Member’s area.
There was a set of Rothko’s paintings in a very dark room which forced me to open up the aperture and raise the ISO. I liked the frame within the frame of the painting, so asked Joanna to stand in the middle of it.
Some famous grey painting, which made for a great backdrop to Joanna.
Some shadow play while we waited for Helen to arrive.
I can not only photograph, I can strike a pose also – with some help. Photo by Helen.
Our photographic journey ended at Tower Bridge. Here the reflection in the glass to the right made me stop for a moment to take a photo.
There were fountains on a timer built into the street. They bubbled most of the time, but once in a while they sent up a geyser of water. Here I framed Joanna with the white foaming water.
Helen Simmons
I have started to really like photographing in tunnels where the light can be restricted. Here a photo head on, with rather flat light.
Here a photo of Helen taken from the side, in the same location as the above photo. Notice the difference, here the shadows are helping to define the shape of her face, making a much more interesting photo.
Helen posing in front of Tower Bridge.

We had planned on taking some photos in the underground and from the top of the Shard, but that has to wait for another time. After nearly ten hours we headed back to King’s Cross to take the train back to Cambridge. It had been a lot of fun, many thanks to Joanna Vymeris and Helen Simmons.

This concludes one of my longest photo shoots. London, we will return.

If you want to see more dance photography, check out the dance category on the blog.

– Johannes

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One Comment

  1. Alastair
    June 14, 2015

    These are brilliant — I think this is one of your most creative sets of images on here! 🙂

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