We hadn’t planned to hit the Notting Hill Carnival because, not living in the capital, we don’t really tend to follow events happening up there. However, at fairly short notice we had a reason to visit London on Saturday and wanting to make the most of the trip we had a look around to see what else was going on in the city. Neither of us had been to a carnival before so this was going to be a new experience.
How would I describe the Notting Hill Carnival? Crowded. In parts, very crowded. Loud. Very loud. Almost everywhere. And quite messy. Ankle-deep in discarded meat, corn cobs, containers, cans, and bags is not unusual. And the people – at least in the first area where we found ourselves – didn’t seem particularly happy.
My wife wasn’t particularly pleased with the crowds or noise (although she said she could have tolerated them; they’re pretty much expected for carnivals, after all) or the lack of fun apparently being had by most people but it was the mess that she just couldn’t stand. Sadly, this meant that I grudgingly agreed to keep the visit to the carnival quite short but my “quite short” isn’t exactly the same as her’s. Our exit route would take us through quite a lot of the carnival as it turned out.
All the things that my wife hated were the things I loved. Lots of people just being people in public is exactly what I like photographing. The floats and flashy outfits that everyone associates with a carnival parade do nothing for me but the grit and grime attract my eye.
The following constitutes a very small selection of the photos I took of the Notting Hill Carnival in London on August 24th 2014. You can see the full selection of photos here: Notting Hill Carnival Photos.
A little bit of that mess that disgusted my wife.
And a smidge more.
Usually when I see someone sleeping while surrounded by loud noises and lots of people I assume they’ve had too much to drink but it’s probably not the case in this particular instance. I hope.
One of those lucky shots fired off while the camera was at waist height that caught a ray of sunlight through a woman’s sunglasses and a happy moment of carnival strangulation, possibly in retaliation for blowing that horn the kid’s holding.
I get the feeling that my wife wouldn’t have minded so much experiencing the carnival atmosphere in a similar way; far above the crowds. I liked being in the thick of things.
I’m not even going to hazard a guess as to what he’s indicating the size of in this shot but I will make a note of this guy’s camera: Canon 5D Mark II and an f/4L 24-105 lens. Good choice. But I would say that because I was sporting exactly the same.
These three guys spotted me shooting and wanted to pose. Even though I prefer candid photography I couldn’t refuse the chance of a little street portraiture.
Another person who posed for a snap with a big smile. I’m quite lucky I got this one because I simple held the camera out in front, pointed in the general direction, and pressed the shutter.
Some of the misery we’d seen in the first part of the carnival crowd we were in transformed to more happiness as we got away from the densest crowds (may be a coincidence; may not).
But that didn’t stop some people looking thoroughly glum. Mostly police officers. A friend of mine – a sergeant in Wandsworth – had advised me not to ask any police to smile as none of them wanted to be there. They hid it well.
Dance like you’ve forgotten to do your jeans up was this guy’s Notting Hill Carnival motto.
And let’s not forget that mess.
I’d love to hit the Notting Hill Carnival again and spend longer at it. I suspect my wife feels differently. I guess I’m going to have to hunt down another photographer who feels the same way I do next year.