Deptford Market in South East London is an open air street market jammed full of real people shopping for real things. "If you can't find it in Deptford, you can't find it in Europe" was the claim.
Scuse me son” he said, “if you want to go home with that camera I'd put it away”.
To be honest I didn't find that much but I wasn't really looking, I was a tad distracted by all the hustle, the faces and the accents, I'm just a country lad and I get easily distracted.
The far end of the market looks like a number of skips had been dropped from a great height, then a series of tables arranged around the debris. Anyone in the market for some "art installation" involving a thousand broken mobiles phones should call in, or hammers without the hammer bit, a set of speakers with no speakers? Anyone? I'm sure the odd gem lurks within, but life's too short.
On a normal shopping street people travel up and down, you're either with the flow or against it, this is largely dictated by the fact that 2 lanes of cars cut down the middle of the thoroughfare. There's some order to it but very little interaction. In street markets people travel up and down, left and right, diagonally, some stand still, some sit down, others stop and chat. There's very little order but a huge amount of interaction. I've never been in Deptford in my life but I didn't feel threatened, it didn't feel strange, whereas put me in the middle of Oxford Street and I feel rather out of place.
So, with all this chaos going on I walked up Deptford High Street with the base of the camera tucked into the chest strap of my bag. It slightly disguises the camera and keeps it rock steady when you stop to take a photograph. The real close low-down stuff was taken at waist level from about 2 feet away, it's always tough to get that close and get something usable. Among the throng of people in a market you can disappear for a few seconds, stop and have a look at what's coming toward you. You can compose some sort of frame even though most of the time it's not through a viewfinder or screen, the more you do it the more familiar you get with the technique, the angle of the camera and the probable result.
When I say no one noticed me, the copper at the top of the street came over as I was changing my battery.
"Shit" says I, "here we go with the anti-terrorism-no-photography-nonsense."
"Scuse me son" he said. "If you want to go home with that camera I'd put it away. The lads round here will have it off you in a flash".
He pointed across the road where a group of young lads were standing, staring across at us and possibly the camera. Fair enough I thought and put it away. At little local knowledge goes a long way.
The first batch from Deptford is over on my Flickr account.
Deptford Market, March 2009