Michal Dzierza
film | photography


Film. Photography. Journalism. A visual blog by filmmaker, photographer and journalist, Michal Dzierza.

London photography from the upper deck

Every now and then I'll be chatting to photographers who inspire me or do something unusual with their cameras. This is my first quick chat with a London-based photographer, Przemek Wajerowicz, who some time ago set out to create a project called From the Upper Deck. Here he talks to me about in more detail about his project and the inspiration behind it:

253 to Euston © From The upper Deck
253 to Euston © From The upper Deck

The project started soon after I arrived in London in 2005. I'm a street photography fan and From the Upper Deck is weird version of street photography. The view from double-decker buses fascinated me from the moment I arrived in London. I've always taken pictures from buses, sadly I lost the very early ones when my hard drive died some time ago. (Three low-res images survived here http://plfoto.com/730749/zdjecie.htmlhttp://plfoto.com/765776/zdjecie.htmlhttp://plfoto.com/777852/zdjecie.html - these were my first pictures from the upper deck.)

After a while the whole idea grew into a project and in 2007 I decided to ride every bus route in London from the first to the last stop. The following year I started my photo blog.

What camera are you using? Do you stick to just one lens or do you change them?

Currently I'm using Canon 5D and a Canon 50mm f 1.8 lens. The 5D allows me to take good quality pictures at very short intervals, which is a great bonus when photographing the street from a moving bus. Plus it's a full-frame camera too. 99% of all my pictures were taken with the 50mm lens. In my opinion the 50mm focal length manages the task best and is ideal for me. And besides the 50mm is like cheap wine. Why is cheap wine is good? Because it's cheap and good.

I agree, I love my 50mm f1.8 lens. Incredible quality for such low price. Which aspect of this project do you find difficult, what's the biggest challenge for you?

I don't look at it this way. It's difficult to say what the most difficult thing is. Most things about taking pictures are exciting. The most boring - and therefore the most difficult aspect - is not getting lost in all the information: when and where I've been, which route I've covered... All that admin stuff (two spreadsheets, calendar) is very ungrateful, but I need to remember where and when I've visited. The biggest challenge is getting on every single double-decker route in London from the beginning to the end.

15 to Paddington © From the Upper Deck
15 to Paddington © From the Upper Deck

Have you ever met with a negative reaction? Or do people prefer to pose for pics?

Usually people don't see me. But when they do, they react in various ways - they're surprised, they smile, they seem reluctant. But there has never been a negative reaction - maybe just surprise. Here are some examples:

http://www.ftud.net/p/494 http://www.ftud.net/p/87 http://www.ftud.net/p/357

Has this project changed the way you perceive London and its inhabitants?

No, although I've seen places I never knew existed, mainly on the outskirts of London - places like Purley, Biggin Hill or Hillingdon.

How was the project received by other photographers and the general poblic?

I think the feedback was positive. The project was picked up by the BBC website and other blogs/online publications, including a prominent German site I never knew existed :)

341 to Angel Superstores © From the Upper Deck
341 to Angel Superstores © From the Upper Deck
141 to Palmers Green © From the Upper Deck
141 to Palmers Green © From the Upper Deck

How many routes have you got left to cover and how are you planning to cover those without double-decker buses?

I don't know exactly how many as not all of them  have double-deckers. I think I'll simply ignore those.

What's the next step for the project?

The main aim is to publish an album then to re-edit and rebuilt the website to allow for easier picture browsing.

You can follow Przemek on Twitter and check his site www.ftud.net

All images © Przemek Wajerowicz, used with author's permission