Reflecting on your Five-a-Day…..Shooting Veg
These vegetables (and fruit!) were so beautiful, I had to take them aside and shoot them. But how to approach it? Well I wanted a really simply set up that showed off the colours and form with no distraction. I opted for a low-key set up with a simple black back-drop and then remember some reflective perspex I had from a glass-wear product photography photo-shoot I did a while back. This gives a great reflection of the product (when lit correctly) and, in my opinion, really high-lights the natural beauty and detail of the veg (and fruit). What do you think?
A Snappy Headshot
….except it’s no ‘snap’ at all.
In fact head shots like this – polished, glossy and with a crisp and flattering finish – take a fair amount of preparation and photography kit! One little inside piece of knowledge – for you non-photographers out there – is that a white wall does not equal a white background, without lighting that is.
I won’t go into the finer details – I don’t really understand them that much myself – I learn what I need to do to combat a problem in photography, rather than learn the technicalities of the problem itself. I leave that to the more techy types. Suffice as to say, if we don’t put a lovely light onto the white background it comes up grey, that’s all.
So that’s where my awesome pop-up kit comes into play, creating a brilliantly bright background. Perfect for offices and locations and no need to worry if the wall is not quite pure white, or it’s white but covered in blue-tac marks or if, as is often the case, you actually don’t have a white wall!
Paired with some great soft-boxes to diffuse all my ‘victims’, er hm, I mean ‘sitters’ – this is the kind of result you’ll get:
These professional head-shots were photographed for a tech company in London in one of their meeting rooms across the course of day. If you want something similar (and other backgrounds are possible), please get in touch and ask me about my head-shots package.
Point of Sale Photoshoot for Worldpay
Worldpay needed some fresh images to illustrate their website and demonstrate their point of sale payment systems.
Similar to our last shoot, they required images for use on their website and to continue to build their image library for the British market.
The images we planned this time were to be taken in local small businesses, which represent some of the clients they currently work with and also attract the kind of businesses they’d targeting this in the future.
Working at three different locations, we started with a lovely, beautifully set up nail salon, London Grace, in West London, which also has a great coffee bar. This meant that the photos could be shot showing both the salon side of the business and a coffee shop.
Using the staff as ‘models’, who were so natural and professional, I was able to take a range of photos showing the salon and the coffee shop with ‘customers’ using the card payment system.
Our second photoshoot was at a really lovely, contemporary fish and chip shop, Lure Fish Kitchen, in Dartmouth Park, which I was particularly drawn to because of it’s bright, funky interior.
Placing red props around the restaurant, we were able to bring in the key red colour of Worldpay, without it dominating the scene but keeping a consistent red in across all the photos.
For this shoot, we used the owner of the Lure Fish Kitchen, Philip to ‘play’ himself and also brought in models to be ‘customers’ during the shoot. I was too busy shooting to sample the food, but I was told, it was delicious and I’m planning to go back there very soon.
We set up a series of typical dining scenarios, where payment would be taken on a Worldpay point of sale mobile machine.
And this is one of the shots that is currently sitting on the Worldpay website:
Our last shoot was at a lovely local home decor and gift shop Future and Found, in Tufnell Park, which was a particularly great find as it’s so stylish and beautifully set out. It also has a great outdoor space, which gave us some extra shooting options.
Again for this shoot I used a mixture of actual staff and models to play the roles of customers and sales assistant.
Cutting from Worldpay Website:
I also took a lovely portrait of the owner and founder, Andrea, who I persuaded to pose for this shot (on the right, left shot not mine) below:
And spotted on a trade show stand recently (thanks to my client for sending me the snap):
To read more about the Point of Sales Mobile Card Machines and see if it could be useful for your business you can visit the website here: Worldpay Mobile Card Machines.
A Traditional Christmas at Chandos House…
So officially Christmas is now over, but I wanted to pop this one blog post up before we move on to the next season, especially as it was the last shoot I did before the end of 2016 and one of my favourites……..
One of the best things about being a photographer at Christmas is photographing Christmas related things. Whether it’s parties, seasonal food or, in this case, decorations!
And when they’re in beautiful historical buildings, such as Chandos House, a Grade I listed Georgian townhouse, built in the 18th century; it makes it extra magical.
Once you arrive through the grand entrance, you are greeted by the wonderful tree and then these treats around the fireplace. I wanted to capture the ambience of this so shot it low-key with a wide angle lens.
The house has been a private residence to various Dukes, Barons and Counts, an Austrian Embassy, an events venue and then went through a period of disrepair. It’s now operated by the Royal Society of Medicine and today offers 6 function rooms, an outdoor walled Garden Terrace, 17 individually furnished bedrooms and in-house catering for all types of events.
At Christmas time, the events team at Chandos House, make a special effort to decorate the venue and bring in some of the holiday spirit to the building.
The team brought me in to shoot some of the set-ups that were taking place, so that they could then use the images when promoting their spaces for Christmas bookings for 2017.
By capturing some of the lovely set-ups before an actual party was about to take place, the events team had some great new brochure photography and website photography, which they can now keep to use for their 2017 Christmas promotions.
Detail shots, such as these ones, also make great social media images. Social media photography, is of course, now so important to the success of a venue’s marketing and promotion.
Interior photography is often a key skill that, when done professionally, really helps to show a space well and capture the ambience of a place with good lighting.
As so many people’s first port of call is a website, when searching for venue hire, it really helps that clients invest in a good quality hospitality photographer as the venue photography will really help sell their spaces.
If you are interested in booking Chandos House for your event, all the information can be found on their website: www.chandoshouse.co.uk
Dennis Severs House at Christmas time….
A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of being taken to Dennis Severs House, 18 Folgate Street, in Spitalfields, one of my favourite areas of London, to see their Christmas installation. I returned a few months later armed with my camera and pen and wrote a piece about it, (see bottom of post).
Last week, I had the pleasure of returning once more with my camera, this time to specifically capture Christmas. Starting in my favourite room, the kitchen; the fireplace was roaring, ginger bread men were strung above and smells of cinnamon and freshly baked bread tickled my senses.
As I tip-toed around the kitchen – one always treads lightly in Dennis Severs House, it seems the right thing to do, as the floor-boards creak beneath – I captured what would soon become the makings of a sumptuous Christmas feast.
And hoped that perhaps I’d get the chance to sample one of these delicious looking mince pies…….
And marvelled at the splendid jellies, pies and spiced Christmas cake, nestled amongst the delicate crockery…
As I crept into the parlour, I could see hints of two great events, the one that just appeared to have happened (a great party the night before, perhaps?) and the one that would surely soon occur….
And though I would not be an attendee at either party, I did get to sit for a moment and take in this extravagantly decorated room and imagine myself as part of it all, a rather wonderful 18th century Christmas celebration. Perhaps one of the presents is for me, after all?
Dennis Severs House at 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, is open year round, but their Christmas display is on now until the 6th of January, giving you just three weeks left to step back into the 18th Century. For more information, please visit their website: www.dennissevershouse.co.uk
Here is the blog post I wrote last time: www.susannahfields.co.uk/an-exploration-of-dennis-severs-house-an-historic-home-in-londons-spitalfields/
The Princes Trust Stem Sessions Photoshoot
I had a lovely time working with The Princes Trust again on this charity photography shoot, where I had been asked to attend one of their Stem Sessions at their Kennington Training centre.
The Princes Trust are working on a Digital Skills Report with tech company Samsung, and the London School of Economics (LSE), looking at how young people use technologies today and the effects this has on both their well-being and prospects for getting into work. So attending one of the Stem Sessions, was a great opportunity to grab some photographs of the young people in action.
It was great to be on site for a few hours as it allowed me a chance to build up some rapport and trust with the attendees so they were comfortable with me photographing them.
As always, on a shoot, if you’ve got a photographer, it’s also a great opportunity to grab any other shots you can use for your organisation and, in this case, just getting some general shots of the attendees of the centre doing what they normally do, such as preparing lunch in the communal kitchen, was useful for them;
As well as showing some of the young people hanging out and, in this case, having quite an in depth conversation about Games of Thrones!
For the actual report, we also set up some shots of the technology being used on site, which would help illustrate and communicate some of the issues more easily:
We finished off the day by attending a woodwork workshop, which was great fun to watch and really had me wanting to get my hammer and tool-kit out when I got back home!
To find out more about the Stem Sessions, check out The Princes Trusts’ website: www.princes-trust.org.uk
A Grand Affair – Churchill Afternoon Tea & Truffle Menu at The Wellesley
This time, The Wellesley is offering a brand new Churchill Afternoon Tea to their customers, featuring some delightful cakes and sweets treats. The tea can be taken in the Cigar Lounge, a beautifully elegant room attached to the stunning cigar humidor.
The tea includes the best salted caramel macaroon I ever tasted and a delicious chocolate and vanilla cake modelled on the traditional Battenburg, scrumptious and thankfully for my taste buds, no marzipan in site!
Pastry chef Cristiano Paolini created these great chocolate cigars to accompany the tea, though something tells me, most guests will be wanting to take these away and playfully ‘puff’ on them later.
You can also take tea in the lovely Jazz Lounge…..
We also shot some new additions for their Italian truffle menu, which consisted of a beef tartare confit, with yolk and hazelnut truffle shaving
and a slow-cooked egg-white asparagus barley salad
We also shot this pizza burrata with truffle.
For details on the afternoon tea and visiting The Wellesley, please go to their website here: www.thewellesley.co.uk/
My lovely clients also tell me you can book the Churchill Champagne Afternoon Tea on their website during November and be in with a chance to win a complimentary dinner for two, served in the Jazz Lounge, on a Friday or Saturday night. Click here for more details: http://www.thewellesley.co.uk/offers/churchill-afternoon-tea/ and if you’ve no one to take with you, you’ve got my number….
A Very Friendly Shoot
Funnily enough, I had actually been to Friends House, meeting up with a fellow photographer for a coffee and cake, just a few months before I received their call about photography. I’d had a delicious cake, so I remembered them well (but more about cake later)…
Based in a Grade II listed building, Friends House contains the central offices of the Quakers in Britain, the main library of Quakerism and Quaker history in the UK as well as holding annual meetings for the Quakers.
But it’s a multi-use building, right opposite Euston Station, housing The Light – their large auditorium for conferences and exhibitions, meeting rooms for hire, a restaurant and a delightful café with two lovely outdoor spaces to enjoy your food and drink when it’s warm.
The restaurant, which is open for lunch, daily, to the public, is a bit of a hidden gem, in an area where it’s hard to find good quality fresh food. The buffet style restaurant specialises in delicious sustainably sourced ingredients at reasonable prices. Definitely worth checking out.
The lovely Quaker Centre Café upstairs, (which is where I’d met my friend a few months back) serves breakfast, afternoon teas and coffees and snacks all day. I can confirm that the cake really is tasty indeed – as you know, I always like to sample the goods!
The Friends House hospitality team were keen to show off the quality of their organic, Fairtrade and locally produced, food, which they offer as part of their catering package for delegates.
Of course no organisation can be great, without the people behind it and, despite the rain, I managed to take these sunny portraits in the gardens, between showers!
The café and restaurant can also be found on Facebook: /www.facebook.com/friendshouserestaurant
Sunny Staff Portraits
It was great to be asked by the London team at BaxterStorey to shoot some fresh new portraits of their staff for use in a series of company documents. They wanted fresh and natural shots, which were quite relaxed and reflected the great teamwork amongst staff. We had to power through a lot of shots on the day and it was not easy with the English sun dancing all over the place! But thanks to my trusty reflector and some much needed shade, I was able to capture the shots below:
I was helped all day by my lovely client, Andrea, whose portrait I of course had to shoot as well, even though she was not on the list…..there’s no escaping my lens on a shoot with me, so always come prepared!
If you want to shoot your own portrait photography for you or your staff, please do get in touch.
Hotel Pics – Rooms, Food, Weddings & Cocktails…..
It was time for some new images for the Danubius Hotel, Regents Park to refresh their website, marketing material and social media feeds. Starting off with the simple, but very important meeting room and executive dining set-ups……
Then it was time to focus on a little romance as we shot the beautiful wedding set-up and stunning cake…….
……before finishing up with a cocktail – as great days do!
The staff at Danubius Regents Park worked really hard to get everything set-up for this shoot and, as always, it was a great pleasure to work with them and help show off their hard work and dedication to the customers.
Showcasing Danubius Hotel Regents Park’s Great London Location
It was absolutely wonderful to be commissioned to shoot around my beloved city as I set off to capture all the great spot within easy reach of The Danubius Hotel Regents Park.
From Camden Town through to Little Venice, taking into account some of the gorgeous flowers in bloom in Regents Park and St.John’s Wood Gardens, there was plenty to capture and I hope the hotel is excited to use them across their marketing activity, especially social media, to really show off how brilliantly located they are.
Food Photography Showcase
I was asked by Ch&Co Group, a commercial catering company, to shoot a food showcase event, which they were organising to pitch to some potential new clients. As the chefs were going to all the effort of cooking up a great display of food and the staff were pulling all the stops out to make up samples and informative displays, they realised it would be a great opportunity to get some professional photos at the same time.
The shoot was a mixture of natural action shots as Chef demonstrated this rather clever food station, cooking up some fantastic Ramen Noodle Soup.
As well as stills of the various foods ready for parties and special events:
I loved these egg-cellent desserts, (couldn’t resist) cleverly disguised, which were a visual delight as well as a tasty treat.
And who doesn’t enjoy an afternoon tea?
We then nipped downstairs to the canteen where everything was set up fresh and ready for a full breakfast, afternoon and lunch service. I was seriously impressed by the great veggie and pescetarian options (check out these salmon scotch rolls below) and there was clearly a leaning towards healthy, nutritious foods as well.
Of course not many want to entirely skip the sweet stuff, especially if you’ve had a hard day at work, but I was impressed that there was a serious effort made to keep the desserts lower calories and full of natural sweeteners. It was only polite for me to sample some of them of course (I have excellent manners don’t I?) and the vegan Chocolate Super-Mousse was heavenly. Possibly more so on finding out the secret ingredient, (oops, not so secret any more) avocado, counts towards one of my five-a-day too. Double bonus.
Ch&Co will be using the pictures primary to follow up on their show-case with their potential new client but also for future tendering documents and general marketing and promotional use. The photos were taken in-situ – rather than ‘studio style’, where each dish is plated carefully, cooked fresh, styled and lit well – which worked really well for the clients’ needs in this case. It also meant they could get a lot more shots taken in the time I was booked to be there.
A great afternoon shooting and the brilliant bonus of a lovely take home parcel afterwards!
Family Day of Fun in The City of London
I was delighted to be asked back again by The City of London to photograph at their yearly Community Fair held in the stunning Guildhall Yard.
Added to that, there is wonderful performances by muscians, dancers and locals schools…..
All those involved from the wonderful historical figures, to giant recycling bins and the City of London Dragon right through to the people handing out flyers and the security guards, were having a great old time!
What’s more, the whole event is held in Guildhall Yard, which is an amazing location. If you get a chance, go visit the wonderful Guildhall Art Gallery and make sure you attend the City of London Community Fair next year. Follow them on Twitter or on their Website for info, which should be up by spring 2017.
Hotel Photos for The Wellesley
I met Patrick at The Jumeirah Hotel when I shot a set of headshots for them a year or so ago. We got on like a house on fire, gossiping all day, sharing our love of food and fitness and generally forgetting we were actually working. I did also manage to produce some good shots for them though, so when Patrick moved to The Wellesley and was given the role of organising a day of photography for them to launch some new amenities and services within the hotel, he asked me if I was available to do the shoot and I was of course delighted.
We started by getting a shot of the butler in casual attire to illustrate their new service “The Running Butler”, an exclusive offering with the objective of raising awareness of the hotel’s personalised (complimentary) butler service.
They wanted to show off the proximity of the hotel to London’s Hyde Park, as well as Green Park and St Jame’s Park – all close by. Ideally we would have had a model ‘runner’ for the shoot, but it wasn’t possible to get one. However once we found a nice running spot in the park, I was able to wait just a short while before a real one ran past and snapped him on camera.
The Butler service will also include them running a lovely hot bath for guests, as below…
And if you want, a chauffeur driven ride to your destination of choice, (check out that personalised licensed plate!)
A room laid out with champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries to replenish you after a hard run (no one said this was a health spa!) And of course we had to sample these afterwards!
There were also a few other lovely amenities to capture:
And this stunning new dish to be added to the menu – a creative take on cannelloni:
Finishing with the stunning afternoon tea display, flower themed for summer, in the elegant Jazz Lounge, which you can book yourself via this link:
Then, look what they got up to……….(phone snap)
……still it’s important to taste what your serving to your customers, one could argue…
If you want to book Afternoon Tea at The Wellesley, visit their Jazz Lounge, Cigar Room or dine or stay there, you can visit their website here: www.thewellesley.co.uk
My Business Hub – Worldpay Photoshoot
Worldpay were planning to launch a new all-in-one payment system and needed images to support the marketing of this new product. They required photos to use on an email marketing campaign and their website so the Marketing Manager approached me and explained that prior to this shoot, most of the photos they’d used before came from the American side of the business and they felt they didn’t represent their British customers.
Together we studied the Worldpay global library images and realised they often featured clearly American locations, such as diners and ‘mom & pop shops’ and were very ‘glossy’ and ‘corporate’, which didn’t fit the British market.
The images we planned to shoot, therefore, needed to have a more down to earth feel, represent modern British people (a mixture of ages, races and fashions) and look as natural as possible so potential buyers could identify with them.
For example The Scullery Cookshop in Muswell Hill Broadway, shot using models Dani Tonks and Roderick Wood:
Together with producer Ed Webster, we took on the task of sourcing locations from the high-street, hiring models and a make-up artist and organising props, budgets and schedules. I came across the stunning Stag Gentlemans Hair Salon in Mill Hill Broadway on recommendation from a friend and in the end used the owner Josh (left) and barber Ryan as models in the shoot, which worked out really well.
We worked closely with Worldpay to put together a clear manageable brief that would meet enable Worldpay’s to launch ’My Business Hub’ successfully.
Ally’s Kitchen, in Archway, worked out really well for one of our shoots as it’s a spacious and contemporary bistro. The also do great peanut butter brownies – excellent fuel on shoot day!
We also hired the owners Ally and Patra (top photo below) to model for us and brought in two other models, Meryl Griffiths (top photo) and Alrik Wendel, as well as a friend, Kate, to act as one of our ‘customers’ (middle photo below with Alley and Alrik).
Some of the images haven’t been used yet and will go onto the Worldpay library and may be used in the future. These shots below at The Scullery, feature Giuseppe Maisto and Rodney Wood.
To read more about the My Business Hub and see if it could be useful for your business you can visit the website here: Worldpay My Business Hub.
Julie Montagu’s Sweet Potato & Edamame Salad – Superfood your Lunch
I love this dish from Julie Montagu’s ‘The Flexi Foodie’. I like her philosophy as she believes in eating healthy most of the time, but not to worry too much if you occasionally slip. She says “By adding more superfoods into your diet, you will naturally start to crowd out the bad ones“. You can almost imagine a group of brussel sprouts rolling down a hill and squishing the Maltesers along the way – I guess that’s kind of the philosophy behind the Flexi Foodie, right?
Anyway I was trying to figure out a good recipe to make to feed a group of hungry models on a shoot and this one looked like a great option.
As a photographer, I also thought it was also a great idea to take some pictures as the make-up artist was doing her work and I had time to kill. It was also an opportunity to test out the lighting in my lounge, which faces North East.
If you want to make this yourself, Julie’s recipe calls for the following ingredients:
250g sweet potatoes
125g shelled edamame (I always keep a bag in my freezer which you can buy from the local Chinese/Japanese or Korea shop if you’re lucky to have one)
45g sunflower seeds
Small handful of fresh mint, chopped
For the lemon dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon (I skipped this bit as I had no idea if my lemon was waxed or not, please could someone educate me on this)
Small garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon maple syrup
This was a pretty easy recipe to pull together, you chop up the sweet potatoes, add them to boiling water and simmer for about 15mins. You do the same for the edamame beans, (I always refer to these as ed-a-mummies – it makes me chuckle) but for just 5mins. Let it all cool down.
Chop up the mint – I usually grow some on my balcony, but alas my pot has been killed by winter. Grab the seeds (I used a packet of mixed seeds from the health food shop as that’s what I had in and I like them) and mix together in a bowl with the potatoes and ed-a-mummies.
Drizzle over the dressing. Add a sprig of mint if you’re writing a blog post, instagramming your food or have guests! And voilà, a very tasty and rather healthy lunch or side dish.
You can read more about Julie Montagu’s Flexi Foodie on her website: http://juliemontagu.com/
Developing a Cleaning Photography Niche….
So I’ve now just completed my fourth cleaning company photo-shoot and, alongside other shoots I’ve done for hotels and my feature “behind the scenes at Buckingham Palace” that involved capturing staff at work cleaning, I think I’ve developed a little niche in cleaning photography!
This time the shoot was for Holroyd Howe, a company that actually specialises in contract catering within independent schools but also offers cleaning services to the schools. They needed a brochure to help spread the word and some shots to help pull it together.
But these are no ordinary schools…….as you can see from the pictures below. As an independent school, the one we used for the photoshoot was actually once a prestigious, girls’ boarding school, which Lady Diana Spencer, spent what she described as the ‘happiest days’ in her life.
West Heath was purchased by The Al Fayed Charitable Trust Sevenoaks on the 14th August 1998. The New School at West Heath, as it is known today, opened on the 4th September 1998 and has approval for 128 children including 44 boarding places and provides a safe haven for children whose main stream education has broken down. The School is registered charity.
As the school we shot at was so beautiful, the environment does look rather glamorous – but that’s no bad thing as lots of the schools on Holroyd Howe’s client list are historical buildings. This allowed us to show just how well trained the cleaners would be at working with delicate and sometimes antique furniture.
At the same time, we also needed to show the less tradition parts of the building as well – the loos, corridors and dining area, which would require different tools.
Altogether a successful day of shooting and one which inspired me to do a bit of a spritz of my own flat the next day!
And Holroyd Howe managed to get a lovely brochure together from the images:
When I am running around, planning, meeting, shooting, editing etc, I need energy and I often want it quickly. So when a friend recommended Ella Woodward’s
Raw Coconut and Cacao Bites recipe, I went a little nutty and made a whole tub of them!
They’re great to prepare in advance and grab as a little pick me up, obviously healthier as a treat than a chocolate bar or bag of sweets!
Ella’s (a.k.a. ‘Deliciously Ella’) recipe call for the following ingredients:
1 cup (I used a tea-cup) of desiccated coconut
1 cup of almonds
1/2 a dozen medjool dates
4 tablespoons of cashew butter
2 tablespoons of raw cacao
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
I didn’t have cashew butter, but used almond butter instead.
I also used soft dates, rather than medjool – as that was what I had in. Of course medjool dates are supposed to be a premium product (and carry a price to match) so you should absolutely use them if you can but it’s not essential. I tried some for the first time the other day and they were delicious, but alas had none today.
The coconut oil I bought (from the Indian section of the supermarket) also lasts a long time and I use it in lots of my dishes now. Apparently this is very healthy and quite frankly it tastes flipping fabulous, so if they say it’s a super-food I’m in.
The raw cacao came from my local health food store, Holland and Barrett. It’s about £7 a bag, which seems crazy compared to £2 for a tub of Cadbury’s, but when you do the research you realise that the product is so much better, organic, non-processed and altogether healthier and tastier. It also lasts a very long time so it’s well worth investing in. Don’t you love the name?
Finally, just because I had them in the cupboard, I added some dried cranberries. They also worked well in the photos.
So Ella’s recipes says:
“Start by putting the almonds and coconut in a food processor and blend for a minute or two, until a flour starts to form. Then add the cashew butter, coconut oil and cacao blending for a few seconds before slowly adding in the dates.
Continue to blend until everything has been combined together to form a sticky mixture. This mixture can then be rolled into balls and covered in more coconut and left in the fridge to firm up for an hour or alternately you can enjoy it with a spoon straight from a cup, or be like me and eat it straight from the blender! Either way you’ll love it! If you can resist not eating the whole mixture then keep the remaining bites in the fridge in a container.”
I needed to add a table spoon of water to my mix as the almond butter was quite dry. I also threw in my cranberries at the same time as the dates and used a mixed selection of nuts.
Hope you have a ball making these!
If you want to see the recipe on Ella’s website, please visit: http://deliciouslyella.com/raw-coconut-and-cacao-bites-vegan/
Dizzying new Heights
I’d heard mixed reviews about the Sky Gardens, the ‘public area’ at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street – recognisable to most Londoners as The Walkie Talkie due to its unique shape. Some people have complained that it shouldn’t really be called a garden as there aren’t that many plants and certainly very few flowers. Others noted its coldness, with some areas feeling a little like an airport lounge and a few muttered their dissatisfaction with the number of entry rules. Yet over 200,000 people have made a free visit to the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street since it opened to the public in January, so it can’t all be bad. I decided it was time to visit and go see for myself.
Arriving at the allocated time, we were swiftly taken through a completely painless security process and, rather surprisingly, my water bottle wasn’t taken off me. Result. Then we were taken up in a super fast lift with a number of other clearly excited people and deposited out into the foyer where immediately we could see the Sky Pod Bar. We chose to go straight out and explore but a quick glance of the menu showed a promising selection of drinks at prices you would expect for such a location. Perfect for a little treat, but too pricey for most to get off your trolley. You can go and get drunk on the view instead.
The first word that escaped me, when I headed into the main area of the Sky Gardens and looked out over The Thames, was a resounding ‘wow’. Nothing more eloquent than that, the word says it all. Having been a Londoner all my life, and, as a photographer, having been lucky enough to access to a lot of buildings in my time, I can honestly say I have never seen a view of London this impressive.
Like any good photographer, I had planned the visit to arrive half an hour before sunset so that we could see the changing light over the views, (check out http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/uk/london for useful times when planning ahead). This meant that we could circle the whole place twice as the sun dipped and bounced off the buildings and see London change under the light.
You really can spend quite a bit of time here; there are different levels and endless London landmarks to view from each and every angle. You could, if you wanted, splash out on a fancy meal at one of their restaurants and enjoy the vista while you eat, though you’d pay a hefty price and it’s definitely not necessary to enjoy the place.
The whole building is glass so there’s no fighting with other visitors to grab a view and there’s great fun to be had as you spot so many familiar buildings. St.Pauls, The London Eye, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, Wembley Stadium and of course The Shard, all clearly in site.
And whilst the views from the Sky Garden are spectacular, I would be lying if I said you would go there for the garden itself. Back in 2007, when the developers were given planning permission to go ahead by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, it was with explicit instruction that “The building would be crowned by a Sky Garden that would be open to the public free of charge”, which is why the public space exists in the first place. However there has since been a lot of controversy around whether the garden was actually built according to original plan and I doubt very much, having seen it myself, if any keen gardener would sing it’s praises.
However, despite the fact that the Sky Garden would be no great contestant in the Chelsea Flower show and you have to follow a few security rules and avoid the bar/restaurants if you’re watching your pennies, it is very much worth a visit. After all it doesn’t cost a penny to get in and you have fantastic view from four different directions far reaching over London. You can’t really complain about that.
Booking for the Sky Gardens, 20 Fenchurch Street (nearest station Fenchurch Street) is pretty simple, just visit their website: http://skygarden.london/ for further information.
This article first appeared on OMOTG and was written by me. Photographs were taken on my camera phone – a Samsung Galaxy S5 – for this feature, and not for commercial use or of commercial standard.
Hot off the press….
Delighted to see the issue of Roast Magazine out this month, celebrating all the iconic restaurant has to offer as well as other foodie features, recipes and some great behind-the-scenes pics – captured by staff.
If you want to have a view of the mag, you can do so for free here: Roast Magazine
In preparation for the page 10 feature and the Roast Website, I was delighted to meet the new head chef Stuart Cauldwell, who wasn’t available for the last shoot and take some great new pictures of him, below.
You can also get a copy of the magazine in print if you dine at the restaurant, although of course they’ll be a limited supply.