by David Kwaw Mensah

I have gone to the Notting Hill Carnival almost every year since 1997 and taken pictures there every year since 2005. On the first few occasions images were captured using my camera phone but more recently I’ve been using my digital SLR. Every year the carnival changes and the challenges, which surface, are quite different. In 2011, the year riots broke out in London, I recall the tension and the rumors that another riot would occur and I remember the police presence was so dominant that it felt difficult to enjoy yourself and thus taking photos of others enjoying themselves was problematic. This year, unlike most others, I set myself specific goals, such as: try to focus on the performers, get behind the scenes a little, try to see the carnival as less of an event and more as a story, with chapters, characters and even protagonists, most importantly; try to show the carnival at it’s most daring, it’s most colourful and it’s most fun. Whether or not I achieved any of this is not really for me to decide. But in the event of me not doing so I chose to add a poem to my collection, which, hopefully, encapsulates the overall sensation experienced in capturing the carnival.

To view images from last year go to:  Shortsighted

 

A Carnival in Notting Hill

Seas of faces swim in colour,

Are drowned in colour,

Are re shaped by smiles.

Faces are born again,

Painted,

Costumed,

Laughing.

Dancing in ridiculous patterns

To sun flavoured music.

To rainbows in beats.

Beats opening like flowers

Blooming sounds.

A warm rhythm.

A tropical rhythm

Invites you in for a dance.

A dance between cultures.

A convergence.

Sound waves crash against each other.

Satellite signals fail.

Mobiles are immobilised.

Civilisation pauses for a moment.

Public transport stops.

Nature flaws modern technology.

At least partially.

Nature has invited us in for a dance.

We accept

And we don’t regret it.

© David Kwaw Mensah

David Kwaw Mensah is a London born and based photographer, creative writer and film critic. His obsession with all things cinematic has led him to numerous experiments with filmmaking and eventually to the world of photographic stills, where, from behind the camera, he weaves stories, philosophical queries and poetry, attempting always to find the beauty in everyday life. On his blog, shortsighted.blogspot.com, which mostly explores all of the above, he is currently addressing the significance of the photographic portrait in a series titled Everyday People, and the ways in which a portrait can be deemed as an integral part of the narrative of a human life. @DavidKwawMensah Facebook: David Kwaw Mensah

The rhythm’s gonna get you.

Need a dance partner bro.

I’ll lead

Are you picking up what I’m putting down? *sassy face*

Oh I got the moves, these hips don’t lie.

Don’t just stand there, join in!

For the uninitiated, this be called ‘the worm’

This old chestnut is ‘rowing the boat’

Rhythm’s got us, it got you too?!

Yeah we’re good!

This year I arrived early enough to catch costumed by prepared at Ladbroke Grove.
This year I arrived early enough to catch costumes being prepared at Ladbroke Grove.

van

dragon

I also arrived early enough to catch the pre-carnival street party Juvaa Morning. This consists of a number Trinidadian carnival traditions, which include paint and chocolate fights.
I also arrived early enough to catch the pre-carnival street party Juvaa Morning. This consists of a number Trinidadian carnival traditions, which include paint and chocolate fights.

paintmanmakeup

paintgroup

seatbridge

Early carnival goers argue with the police about the chain one of them is wearing.
Early carnival goers argue with the police about the chain one of them is wearing. According to the police this chain is potentially dangerous. The carnival goer insists that he wears the chain every year and that it’s not dangerous at all. What appears to be escalating into a tense situation transforms completely when the policemen and the carnival goers start exchanging light hearted banter with each other.

These early carnival goers were so tired of waiting for sound systems to start playing music that they actually started making their own, using the top of a dustbin.
These early carnival goers were so tired of waiting for sound systems to start playing music that they actually started making their own, using the top of a dustbin.

3 thoughts on “Photo Gallery: Notting Hill Carnival 2013

  1. Great photography. These shots have captured the energy that Carnival is all about. In London, it’s always been an inclusive event – but for anybody that knows the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, its always disappointing to see the lazy, whitewashed front pages that the mainstream puts out every single flipping year.

    Just look at the lady with the yellow feathers at the top of the page – how long will we have to wait to see beautiful images like that plastered on ALL the front pages of our newspapers the day after Carnival? Is ONE day in 365 really too much to ask?

    Like

    1. Could not agree more. I am the administrator for London School of Samba and I have personally put in hundreds of hours of boring paper shuffling etc to make one little bit of NHC happen, and more importantly witnessed the awesome efforts many of unbelievably brilliant committed volunteers and toiling underpaid choreographers, costume makers, bateria leaders and coordinators struggling to make this weekend of joy wonderful for thousands. The negative press image of the event is so offensive.

      Like

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