Photographers' Blog

It’s as British as fish and chips

By Eddie Keogh

It’s been our national dish for over a 100 years now and although it’s seen some strong opposition from lasagne and chicken tikka masala, it’s as popular now as it ever was. As a young boy, I have fond memories of Dad rushing in the door with parcels of fish and chips wrapped up in last weeks newspaper. Crispy battered fish with chips covered in salt and vinegar – comfort food at it’s best.

I’ve just spent three days traveling around London’s high streets and back streets looking for Fish and Chip shops. From The Codfather in Northolt to The Rock and Sole Plaice in Covent Garden. I’ve met every nationality working behind the counter and queuing in front of the counter, which confirms it’s broad appeal. Back in 1995, British people were demolishing an incredible 300 million portions of fish and chips every year!

The birth of fish and chips has an interesting international story. We hadn’t even clapped eyes on a potato until they were bought back from South America by the conquistadors in the 17th century. It was the French who invented the chip and the Jews who brought deep fried fish to Britain. There are differing opinions but it’s claimed that the first combined fish and chip shop was opened by a Jewish immigrant, Joseph Malin, within the sound of Bow Bells in East London around 1860. The importance of this national dish was never clearer than during World War II when the British government made sure fish and chips were one of the few foods that was never rationed.

It became the Friday evening meal of choice for the more devout Catholics who refrained from touching meat on a Friday (though this is also a custom which remains popular for British people in general). But if you’re visiting London for the Olympics, remember they’re open every day of the week. So tuck in to a portion of fish and chips but just don’t expect to run the 100 meters under 10 seconds afterwards.

An accordion for Ablogin

By Vasily Fedosenko

To Vladimir Ablogin, it may still seem like a fairy tale, but as he touches his new squeezebox “garmoshka” accordion, which had covered thousands of miles to find him in his dilapidated wood hut, he knows what has happened is real.

I arrived in his run-of-the-mill Russian village in the Smolensk region at Belarus’s border on an early December morning to take pictures of local peasants voting in Russia’s parliamentary election. Looking like it was still from the Soviet era, the election day soon turned into a rare holiday in this backwater settlement, which was until recently prosaically named “Gryaz” (Mud).

Paying little heed to my presence and already warmed up with Russia’s national tipple, a bare-footed Ablogin sat on a bed in his higgledy-piggledy home, playing a traditional Russian “garmoshka” button accordion to amuse his audience of several women and men.

from UK News:

Best of Britain: Work and play

Brits work hard and they play hard. This week's Best of Britain includes photos of people doing both.  There's a photo of dozens of people seeking to break the world record for naked rollercoaster riders as well as suited up City workers heading to their offices with the Tower Bridge in the background.

There are photos of workers checking up on Big Ben and chimpanzees checking each other. Also included are grouse hunters, Fringe Festival entertainers and a laughing Prince Charles as he attends the Highland Games.

Thrillseekers take part in a world record-breaking nude rollercoaster ride, to raise money for Southend Hospital's breast care unit, at an amusement park in Southend-on-Sea, southeast England August 8, 2010. Participants, who loaded into the carriages 40 at a time, broke the previous world record of 32 naked riders on a theme park ride. A total of 102 riders turned up to ride without clothing. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

City workers cross London Bridge during the morning rush-hour in the City of London August 11, 2010.     REUTERS/Paul Hackett

Gamekeepers Bob Pirie and Adam Smith (R) pose on a heather moor a day before the opening of the grouse shooting season, on the Auchleeks Estate near Trinafour, Scotland August 11, 2010. The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust says that the economic resilience of grouse shooting is being tested by falling numbers of grouse being shot. Their study suggests slightly less than half as many grouse were shot in Scotland last year as in 2001.   REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Two chimpanzees groom each other as they sit together in their Budongo Trail enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland August 10, 2010. In March eleven new chimpanzees were introduced, in stages over six months, from Holland's Beekse Bergen safari park in order to create a 'super group' of twenty two. REUTERS/David Moir

A street entertainer performs during the opening day of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival August 6, 2010. The festival runs for the rest of August. REUTERS/David Moir

BRITAIN

Streets of Wootton Bassett

A historic market town with a distinctive 17th century town hall, Wootton Bassett is worth a visit – but the crowds that gather here with grim regularity are rarely interested in the tourist sites. Instead, as British troops face a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, Wootton Bassett, west of London, has become synonymous with the repatriation of soldiers killed in action.

After they arrive at a nearby air base, the bodies are driven slowly through the town en route to a hospital. For the past two years, townsfolk have joined grieving relatives in paying spontaneous tribute to the passing dead.

Covering the repatriation cortege is an uncomfortable assignment. There is always awareness that some people think photographing and filming mourners at a moment of emotional vulnerability is a thoughtless intrusion. Even after scores of similar ceremonies, this feeling of awkwardness is evident, including at the latest one I attended on July 22. Friends and family of soldiers line one side of a narrow road in Wootton Bassett while photographers and television crews face them from the opposite side.

A break in choreography on the campaign trail

On tightly-choreographed campaign trails there aren’t many photo moments that haven’t been carefully planned beforehand by spin doctors, so when Gordon Brown made an impromptu visit to a hair salon in Oldham, there was a ripple of excitement.

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown accepts an invitation from Sue Fink to visit her hair salon as he speaks at the Honeywell Community Centre in Oldham, northwest England April 28, 2010.  REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Such unscripted moments create great opportunities for photographers because they offer a glimpse of reality and inject a human element into often monotonous days of speeches, handshakes and platitudes.

Brown had been pressed into visiting the Academy hair salon by owner Sue Fink, a brassy woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer when she collared Brown at a community centre. Brown, appearing embarrassed, mumbled his consent.

A town of grief

BRITAIN-AFGHANISTAN/
The coffins of six British soldiers killed in Afghanistan are driven though the streets of Wootton Bassett in southwest England November 10, 2009. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Since the early 2000′s, the bodies of fallen servicemen and women from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places have been repatriated to RAF Lyneham. They pass through the town of Wootton Bassett on their way to the coroner in Oxford. This has led to family members, friends, locals and mourners from further afield assembling along the route of the funeral cortege. It is an emotionally charged event that garners wide media coverage every time.

BRITAIN/
A man cries as the hearses carrying the coffins of five British soldiers are driven through the streets of Wootton Bassett, southern England March 11, 2010. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

Snowed under

So what do you do when the TV and radio news are all telling you not to travel, and then you receive a group SMS from your company saying stay at home?

Well it’s the worse snow storm to hit London in 18 years and all you want to do is get out there and shoot it.

I get to my car and as I am wiping the snow off it I look up at the window and see my kids looking at more snow than they have seen in their lives. I watch their little faces light up as it dawns on them that all this snow means only one thing — NO SCHOOL. Now let’s face it, that’s just about as good as it gets.