Sara Melhuish | London

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Hello Sara, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how did you get involved into street photography?
I’m Sara Melhuish-originally from Sweden – moved over to London in 1995 for what I thought was only 3-6 months to learn the language and pull a few pints, little did I know I would be here nearly 23 years later with a lovely husband and daughter.

I have always enjoyed photography and my parents always said I had a good eye but it’s in the last 9 years that it has become a huge part of my life, it moved rapidly from being a hobby to obsession and ‘actually maybe I can do this for a living’ and now I am freelancing in combination with a ‘normal’  Monday to Thursday job to keep the wolf from the door.

I initially captured a lot of classic locations in London, architecture, landscapes but also macro and portraits, even did a couple of weddings. With time though I found that my true passion and calling  is street photography and living in London, I feel like I have found the holy grail.

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So much hustle and bustle on the doorstep with perfectly normal and mundane moments of people just getting on with their day to day life captured to show something simply beautiful. Sometimes the shot falls into your lap, but sometimes you have to position yourself and wait for the perfect moment, especially if you have seen the perfect light or shadow to capture. I can spend hours just slowly walking around and  'merging' myself with the area and pace. I'm usually at my happiest at a street corner in Soho watching the world go by. As luck has it my normal job takes me all over the City & West End which means before and after I can take some time out to destress with the camera, sometimes meeting up with fellow photographers as well which gives an edge and challenge as you get that little bit braver. The weather makes a big difference to what I capture as well.  Nothing like a bit of wet tarmac and cobblestones combined with umbrellas and neon lights at night.

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I am also very fascinated by street art and the gritty urban but oh so beautiful areas of London that has not been gentrified as yet, especially parts of the East End  incl Shoreditch and Hackney but also parts of Camden, so I also spend a lot of time there and try to show and incorporate all of this in my street photography.

What fascinates you so much capturing life in the streets?
It shows the true real life as it is, unstaged and raw. Little glimpses into people's lives and no matter from what social background, gender, ethnicity, religion or political stance.Just that little moment of time

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What are you looking for when you go out into the streets and shoot ?
I look for  little story to unfold in  front of me that I can capture in one click, also shadows and the beautiful morning and evening light that leaves a golden glow. A beam of light wasing over somebody's face or arm, harsh backlights for a sharp contrast/shadow. Maybe not a person, a lonely pair of high heels  deserted on a street on the Strand, a reflection in a window with the whisper of a face or body showing through. Puddles where droplets of rain are splashing with the reflections of passers by with umbrellas, vaping smoke clouds obscuring the view of a face. A hug, kiss or a hand shake, an argument or a tear, laughter and joy. So much out there on the streets of London.

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You submitted work you shot in Soho. Is that one of your favorite places in London?
It is indeed, an absolute melting pot of people and culture. The life goes on around the clock 24/7- it just never stops.

Population demographics Soho
Population: 24,639
Average age: 33
Retired: 16.62%
Unemployed 3.8%
Educated to degree level: 52.81%
Student: 11.25%
Total migrants: 29.59%

There is so much to see and experience.

Local residents, market and stall holders on the back streets with pop up food courts and fruit and veg. All the restaurants, cafes and shops with masses of tourists bumbling around,and taking in the atmosphere. The slightly shady part that comes out at night when the revellers swerving down the neon lit streets  popping in and out of bars, pubs and clubs. Scantily clad, suave looking, fancy dress, killer heels, leather onesies -anything goes. ChinaTown with its colourful lanterns, fantastic food and shops and bars, you can buy amazing cakes or if you fancy - fresh crabs and lobsters. Carnaby Street with quirky boutiques and funky dressed people shopping until thy drop. Old Compton Street with theatres, bars, barbers and cafes.No better place to enjoy a spot of people watching with a cuppa and cake.

You are Swedish and live in London. As a street photographer and observer of the city - Can you tell us a little bit about the relation of the city and its people?
Swedes and Brits are quite alike with dry humour and a lot of sarcasm. People say that London is an unfriendly and lonely place with people just getting on with their life. I beg to differ, I have seen so many acts of kindness towards strangers as well as Londoners standing together in when acts of horror has descended on the city. The true stiff upper lip and getting on with life but also with immense empathy.

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What suggestion for great streets spots would you give to street photographers who are traveling to London?
Well all of the streets and areas as mentioned above as well as the individual ones like Brick Lane, Brewer Street, Camden Market, Petticoat Lane, Southbank, Covent Garden, More London, Leadenhall Market, Spitalfields, Clerkenwell, Farringdon, Greenwich Market, Smithfield, Notting Hill/Portobello, Borough Market - I can go on and on, there are so many fantastic areas to capture.

Was there a photographer or any style of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
Well you have the classics that I have looked for inspiration to over the years like Henri Cartier -Bresson, Vivian Maier, Joel Meyerowitz but newly discovered as I get more and more involved in the genre are Nick Turpin (whom I would also love to go on a photowalk with), Thomas Leuthard, Alan Schaller, Simon Roberts, Becky Frances, Jill Freedman, Harry W. Edmonds, Craig Whitehead (@sixstreetunder) and Joshua K.Jackson (@joshkjack).

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