Piccadilly postcards, London Bridge fridge magnets, Big Ben keychains. A cup of tea in my ‘I heart London’ mug. Not a single piece of memorabilia has ever managed to fill the emptiness in my heart after leaving London. But there is someone who affected me in a way never experienced before by exploring the city with a camera in hand, capturing his ventures with photography on video.
It only took a single shot of West Hampstead underground station to leave an impact on me in a way that only someone who knows the insights of the city could achieve. Pablo Strong is a true Londoner with an authentic approach to photography. Born and raised in London, he knows the city better than any other place and it’s the familiarity with the area that gives him the confidence to notice and capture the idiosyncrasies of life in London.
When someone mentions the Metropolis in any conversation, time stops, their voice is muted and all I can hear inside my head is a muffled echo of familiar sounds of the city that I will always call home. Tube announcements, Hare Krishna devotees chanting on Oxford street and Sunday pub lunches are all dear to my heart.
I was curious to find out where Pablo would get someone new to the city. “I’d start at Oxford Circus and walk all the way through Soho and all the side streets. Then if it was a weekend I’d take them to Brick Lane for a coffee and a Salt Beef Bagel!”
A tenor with a unique eye for perfectly framed realistic shots, he leaves room for the viewer to embark on an emotional exploration journey with every picture as their starting point.
“I always carry my camera with me so when I’m travelling around town I can grab photos when I want. You never know when you’re going to see something you want to capture. I’m very lucky with my job that when I have breaks I can have a few hours in central London to take photos or make videos.”
The originality of his aesthetic and approach to photography is captured on vlogs and shared with his growing audience on YouTube. Pablo uses a GoPro Hero4 mounted on top of a Fujifilm X100T, allowing the viewer to experience the process directly through the photographer’s eye. The videos are not rushed and include the final crop and edit of each picture as it comes from the Fujifilm in comparison to the original frame captured from the GoPro.
“A photograph is much more interesting if you know a bit about the context of the photo and also if you know about the photographer themselves. I realised that by showing my process in the vlog format I could achieve both those things.” – Pablo Strong
For Pablo, photography is not only a matter of stills. Except from introducing the city to his audience, he is eager to listen to its people as well. In his latest series ‘Streets of London’, he conducts candid interviews with pedestrians in an attempt to pause routine for a bit and take the time to listen to their experiences. At first, approaching strangers on the street might not be for the faint-hearted, but with the right attitude people open up.
“I’m always fascinated with the stories that people carry around with themselves and how people can be on the same street but be having a completely different experience. The important thing when interviewing people is to make them feel comfortable about sharing. That means being relaxed and unthreatening. If you treat them like you’re in a formal interview they will respond like a formal interview but if you treat them like a friend they will respond like one.”
Through his videos, Pablo Strong has managed to put the viewer behind his lens in a way that was not documented before. When watching his street exploring sessions I feel like I’m in his boots, making my way through Soho’s back alleys to China Town’s hidden gems, filling my heart with joy and my soul with hope that I will make it back one day.