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Life goes on... The Promenade Des Anglais, Nice - by Andy Hall

1 September 2016

Andy Hall is a London-based freelance photographer with over 25 years of experience. His wide-ranging commissions has seen his work appear in numerous newspapers and magazines including the Observer, Guardian, Sunday Telegraph, Times, Newsweek, GQ, Red Bulletin magazine and Der Speigel.

 

'Shoot first, ask questions later', so the saying goes.

I’ve been an editorial photographer for a long time now, and I’m quietly proud of my ability to come up with something from just about any given situation. But that means inevitably, an ability to do some “media manipulation” in order to get all the relevant info in the frame, as well as making it visually striking.  “Just stand a little to your left with that placard”, or “show us how you did that again – that was great”, or “just ignore me, pretend I’m not here”. etc etc.  

You can’t do that with street photography, because it’s all about shooting first - trusting your instincts, anticipating a situation where you can hunt down and catch that decisive moment, steal that serendipitous split second, where subject matter, composition and light all collide, in the hope that it tells us more.

I’ve been doing  quite a lot of street photography lately and I’m loving it. Pitting my wits against the human activity around me. Whether it’s walking around the dusty streets of Podor in Northern Senegal, or riding the all-night metro in Barcelona with the night-shift workers and clubbers. Or working nervously on the streets of Gaziantep on the Turkey-Syria border, trying to get a sense of a town reportedly full of spooks, arms dealers, human traffickers and ISIS recruits. Or simply foraging around the City of London seeing new buildings springing up every few weeks. Or even darting around Soho following street fashionistas during fashion week-  It’s all about trusting your immediate instincts, fishing for opportunities and being in the moment - shooting first, and hopefully making your pictures answer those questions later.

Just about every summer I go to the south coast of France for my holidays at some point, and often walk along the promenades of the Riviera with my camera, or up and down their beaches (which can be tricky if you want to remain surreptitious when you’re snapping away in nothing but a pair of swimming trunks.). This summer I found myself in Nice and wanted to do a picture essay on life in the city in the aftermath of the horrific Bastille day terrorist attack back in July; concentrating on the famous Promenade des Anglais where it happened, taking a look at the characters and mood there.

What I found was a city struggling to come to terms with what happened, but tentatively coming back to life.  The perennial local characters, mingling with families of northern and eastern Europeans in search of sun. Amongst the locals and holidaymakers lay wilting floral tributes (still there ten days later) at various points along the promenade where the lorry had struck its victims; adding a slight melancholy feel to the summer air. All the while, heavily armed soldiers patrolled the seafront. A strange experience, but I felt compelled to document it.

See more work by Andy Hall

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