My Little London : Coffee & Cameras

By Kate Wilson - 4:59 PM

I have two London gems for you crammed (sorry for the lack of elegance to that, my brain is failing me today) into one post.

I don't need an excuse to visit any of London's great coffee shops (hello there Kaffeine, Tapped & Packed and Store St Espresso to name but a few).  But as my intended destination was literally 2 minutes away I thought I'd start the day with a caffeine kick.  

Coffee and cake, what more could you want?

Situated just around the corner from the National Portrait Gallery, Notes, Music & Coffee is a real gem of a shop and as the name suggests it's not just coffee that they specialise in.  Towards the back sits shelves of jazz, classical and opera CD's alongside DVD's (mostly world cinema, there's a great selection).   You can tell that they are really passionate about coffee, I watched agog at the baristas make coffee brewing seem like a science.  Syphons, scales and lots of jotting down of notes made for good viewing.  The almighty La Marzocco Strada machine that sits behind the bar is beautiful (not that I have any technical understanding about it whatsoever!). It's the kind of place that makes me want to give up being an illustrator and learn to be a barista instead. So two magnificent drinks and one James Brown box set later it was on to the National Portrait Gallery to take a peek at the Hoppé exhibition.

Having originally moved to London from Germany to become a banker in 1902 E.O. Hoppé became inspired by fellow photographer J.C. Warburg and set up himself in the same field.  As written on the exhibition website, he was the Mario Testino of his day, becoming a photographer to the stars.  

Ezra Pound, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother

Amongst the various scribbles in my sketchbook was the detailing of how he would pare down the information in his portraits so that his sitters personalities would shine through.

These portraits made up the first half of the display but it was the other half that really captivated me. 

During the 20s and 30s Hoppe took photos of street life in London.  Whilst we're all familiar with the street style photography of today, these comprised of everyday scenes of ordinary people, some of which really made me chuckle.

I hope both of these visits have inspired you to take in some London sights, or even pick up a camera and head out to explore.  I'm now quite tempted to go out and snap a few pictures myself.

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