Month 11: Stratford

I’m betting that my photos of Stratford are a lot different now than they would have been if I had done this project a few years ago. I hear from friends about how much rejuvenation has been happening in the area ever since the 2012 Olympics were announced to be happening in London. My coin didn’t land on any of the actual Olympic areas, but I’m sure the whole area has changed a lot.

When I first got off the train and entered my photography zone, I noticed a bunch of large metal sculptures, almost floating in the sky high above the road. I remember a local friend mentioning them to me, saying they were put here as part of the Olympic regeneration, but what on earth did a bunch of giant metal ‘fish’ have to do with the Olympics. I have since learned that the installation was put there to hide the ugliness of what’s behind it from Olympic visitors. That’s it Britain, put up a shiny facade to shield the delicate tourists’ eyes from gritty urban reality. Well, I liked the angles they made in the sky, regardless.

My next photo stop was another metal sculpture, this time in the middle of a roundabout, and shaped like a tree. Apparently The Railway Tree was put here to commemorate the area’s link with the railroad and industry. Stratford was historically a major intersection of various rail routes, and the workshops for the Great Eastern Railway were located here from the 1840s-1920s. Turns out The Railway Tree is pretty photogenic, too. I shot from inside, up the outside, and – my favourite – through the sculpture, waiting for the right moment as someone walked past the opening.

Autumn Leaves in Empty Paddling Pool
Autumn Leaves in Empty Paddling Pool

I then headed for the park, to see what West Ham Recreation Ground had in store for me. I grabbed a few shots in the playground area, but my favourite shot of the day came from a red tiled decorative wall, where I saw a green tree peeping through from the other side.

After the park’s fun and adventure, the sun was going down, so I decided to make my way home via the DLR station instead of the train. On my way, the sky was showing off with some amazing clouds, and I had to stop and grab a photo or three. But the day wasn’t quite done yet, as I hit the DLR station, and a stunningly beautiful building lay before me. Well, I thought it was beautiful. Everyone else was just walking right past it… probably because it was an air conditioning ventilation shed. I loved the geometry and symmetry of its ridged metal cladding, and knew that it would look great in black & white (which it does). Sometimes the most unexpected things have beauty inside, and it just needs someone to show it. That’s exactly what this photography project is all about: uncovering the beauty in the world around me, especially where you least expect it.

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