Month 6: Balham

I knew this one was going to be a challenge. Although I was thrilled to see that my coin had landed not far from my house, I had cycled through the area many times, and knew it was mostly residential roads full of terraced houses, aside from an industrial estate which I knew would be closed and out of bounds on weekends (my usual photographing time).

Terraced Houses, Balham
Terraced Houses, Balham

The trouble with residential areas and a project like this is trying to balance getting good shots, with not intruding on anyone’s privacy. I’m a bit shy when I’m out with my camera, and find it hard to approach people asking to take their photo. The few times I have done it and gotten a ‘yes’ as a response, the person always put on their camera face, fake smile, and stilted pose. For me anyway, doing this rarely results in a photo that I like. So I decided to stick to my preferred approach, of exploring the area and capturing whatever I find along the way.

My day started wandering through the neighbourhood’s cookie-cutter streets that all look pretty much the same: same Victorian terraces, same middle class sedans parked out front. I spent quite a lot of the day walking around here, without much noteworthy to see. I did spot the odd snippet of intrigue, such as a human skeleton in an upper storey window (what? why?). But otherwise, although it seemed a nice enough neighbourhood to live in, there was not much catching my photographic eye, other than a flourish of golden lichen on top of an old post box.

I decided to head towards the industrial estate, and my route took me through a housing estate. As I passed through this, I noticed a bright yellow digger parked next to some rubble in the car park, with parts of it coated in oil and grime. As I left the estate, my eye was then caught by a super shiny 1970s Rolls Royce, spotlessly clean and just sitting there, right outside one of the ground floor flats, clearly awaiting a bride or someone like that for a special occasion. I love witnessing little snippets of human life like this.

As expected, the industrial estate was indeed closed off, but I did like the visual rhythm of the building itself, and I loved the vibrant blue of a nearby electrical access door, with its contrasting silver lock. I then wandered along a cherry lined road heading home, stopping along the way to catch 2 of my best shots of the day: a small black kitten (or puppy?) painted on a white wall, and the loneliest shoe in the world. We’ve all seen lost shoes on the street, and whenever I do, I always wonder about the person who lost them. This time I pictured the mother’s face as she lifted her son out of the pram, to find only one of the bright green Converse trainers she’d bought with a little extra growing room remaining.

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