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18 peachy photos of Londoners from Becky Frances

Street photographer Becky Frances has been living in London for the past five years – and capturing its citizens long before that. Below, she shares her work and some of her tips

Written by
Guy Parsons
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Kids, 2016
© Becky Frances

Kids, 2016

‘For me, street photography is itIt's what I want to do. It's almost impossible to run out of subjects as something different happens on the same street every day. London is full of surprises.’

Pug Life, 2016
© Becky Frances

Pug Life, 2016

‘I started off using a Canon 450D and a long lens (50-200mm).  It took me a while to build up enough confidence to ditch the lens and use a regular 18-55mm, getting closer to the people I wanted to photograph.’

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Sister Ray's, 2016
© Becky Frances

Sister Ray's, 2016

‘The Canon is a lovely camera but it’s bulky and people do see you coming when you’re using it, so a couple of years ago I switched to an Olympus EM5 which I absolutely love.

It’s smaller and easier to use and has a flip screen, so you can shoot from the hip and see what you're doing.’


Pride, 2016
© Becky Frances

Pride, 2016

‘I’m fine with waiting for a person to notice me and photographing their reaction, but I'm not into the intrusive kind of street portraiture practiced by Bruce Gilden, which to me is all about sticking your camera right in someone's face – I wouldn't do that!’

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Metamorphosis, 2014
© Becky Frances

Metamorphosis, 2014

‘Two of my favourite street photographers are Martin Parr and Joel Meyerowitz.  I could see from their work that street photography is not just about photographing people walking down the street.’

Dave's strut, 2016
© Becky Frances

Dave's strut, 2016

‘It's about so much more – their surroundings, the light, the colour and humour in different situations.  I didn't set out to emulate them, but I did have an idea of what I should be looking for when I was out shooting.’
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Singing in Shoreditch, 2015
© Becky Frances

Singing in Shoreditch, 2015

‘As a city, London is fairly friendly to photographers.  Most people I come across are very happy to have their photo taken – if they even see me doing it. 

I've had a couple of instances where people have been very angry. The first time it happened it really put me off going out shooting and it took a while to go out on my own again.’

Red Stripe, 2016
© Becky Frances

Red Stripe, 2016

‘I think maybe it helps that I’m female – I do know a few male photographers that have been in physical fights with people who didn't want their photo taken!’
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Distracted, 2015
© Becky Frances

Distracted, 2015

‘If I were to give advice to aspiring street photographers, I would say practice, practice, practice.  Getting out as regularly as you can builds your confidence and sharpens your eye.’

Skater Girl, Brick Lane, 2016
© Becky Frances

Skater Girl, Brick Lane, 2016

‘Photograph in a way you feel comfortable with at first then slowly push yourself out of your comfort zone - get closer to people, wait for eye contact, that kind of thing. Find your own style and don't let other people tell you what to do.’
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Shake a tail feather, 2016
© Becky Frances

Shake a tail feather, 2016

‘And London is full of characters that are waiting to share their stories – and people who are less happy when you catch them doing something they shouldn't be! It's a fantastic city full of colour and diversity and I hope I'm shooting it for a long time yet.’

Shadow dancers, 2014
© Becky Frances

Shadow dancers, 2014

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Chapel Hill Market, 2012

Chapel Hill Market, 2012

Happy Shoppers, 2013
© Becky Frances

Happy Shoppers, 2013

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Happy Coppers, 2014
© Becky Frances

Happy Coppers, 2014

Thinking caps on, 2013
© Becky Frances

Thinking caps on, 2013

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It's lit, 2012
© Becky Frances

It's lit, 2012

City views blow away the blues, 2016
© Becky Frances

City views blow away the blues, 2016

More photos

In photos: London's Christmas past
  • Things to do

There's so much tradition to pack into December that it's no wonder Christmas seems to start before autumn does these days. London has always been crazy for Christmas, though – just check out the gallery below, which shows the city in festive trim as far back as 1956. All photos are from the Henry Grant Collection, held by the Museum of London. A large selection of the Museum’s collections are available to buy as prints from www.museumoflondonprints.com RECOMMENDED: See our full festive guide to Christmas in London

  • Things to do
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Photographer Rachel Smith still remembers the moment she first stepped into James Smith & Sons, the umbrella shop on New Oxford Street which dates back to 1857. She’d just moved to London and remembers thinking the shop had ‘the wow factor’. That feeling returned when, years later, she started work on a book about London shopfronts with her friend, writer Emma J Page. Smith expected to focus purely on, well, the shopfronts. But as the project progressed, she realised that the shopkeepers were key to the story. ‘I had to photograph the owners,’ she says. ‘They’re as connected to the shop as the shop is to them. Their personalities really come across in the shops. You learn as much from the people as you do from the shop’s façade.’ Photograph: Rachael Smith As she photographed across the city, she picked up snippets of London stories. At East End caff E Pellicci, she met Anna (whose grandmother was Elide Pellicci). She gave Smith a slice of apple pie, a cuppa and a brief history lesson. ‘She was telling me about the Krays,' she says. 'They hung out there and knew the people in Pellicci’s really well.’ The ‘higgledy-piggledy’ Hurlingham Books is another shop that stood out. The owner showed her a hole in the front window, which was made by a snowball. ‘They never repaired it, which makes me laugh’, she says.‘The books just cover where that piece of glass fell out.’ Photograph: Rachael Smith The project has become even more pertinent as shops try to weather the storm of the

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  • Art
  • Photography

How do you sum up a city that changes its look as often as its underwear and always has plenty to say? It sounds impossible, but that’s the challenge we set ourselves when we decided to draw up a definitive list of the best photographs ever taken of the capital. In making our selection we had help. We couldn't do it all by ourselves, obviously. So we enlisted people like Wolfgang Tillmans, Juergen Teller, Nick Waplington, Dorothy Bohm and Eamonn McCabe. Those are just some of the names among the world-famous photographers who shaped our selection. We also picked the brains of the top London photography brass at museums including the Tate, V&A, Museum of London and Imperial War Museum. So it's not just our taste, it's their taste too. The result: a celebration of London’s architecture, its icons and its geography, but also of us: Londoners at work, at play, protesting, rising to a challenge and always ready for our close-up.  With thanks to: Dorothy Bohm, Michael Hoppen, Charlie Phillips, Dennis Morris, David Chandler, Helen Trompeteler, Tina Barney, Bruce Gilden, David Campany, Nick Waplington, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rob Greig, Simon Baker, Eamonn McCabe, Jim Dow, Alona Pardo, Martin Barnes, Brett Rogers, Juergen Teller, Fariba Farshad, Michael Benson, Anna Sparham, Hilary Roberts, By Gabriel Coxhead, Matt Breen, Phoebe Trimingham and Martin Coomer

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