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Greenwich: How photographer Lorenzo Garrido is helping people capture the area

Born in Greenwich, the 28-year-old leads small groups of snappers in tours to take in the best sites

Lorenzo’s tours cover major sites in Maritime Greenwich

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BY LAURA ENFIELD

Photographer Lorenzo Garrido never leaves his Greenwich home without a camera. He has thousands, perhaps millions, of photographs to show for it.

Most – from his childhood holidays right through to the eerie days of empty lockdown streets – sit undeveloped and unseen.

They have taken a back seat to his career, which has seen him photograph the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and shoot campaigns for brands such as USC.

But while he is yet to fully showcase his collection to the world, he is about to start sharing the expertise he has gleaned from creating them.

The 28-year-old has launched a business, Greenwich Photo Tours, offering others an insight into favourite spots on his home turf and the best ways to capture them through a lens.

“I walk around with my camera all the time,” said Lorenzo.

“If I’m just stepping out of the house to have a stroll, or whatever, I’ll always have my camera with me. 

“Greenwich is such a beautiful, picturesque space and, when I researched, I found nobody was doing a tour like this here.

“I wanted to take my expertise from my day job and bring it into a community space and put the two areas of my life together.”

Born and raised in Greenwich, he first began capturing images as a child.

Greenwich-based photographer Lorenzo Garrido

“My dad bought me a Polaroid camera when I was like 10 years old and straight away I was pretty obsessed,” said Lorenzo.

“I have a vivid memory of taking it on a Year Seven trip to France and shooting some pictures.

“I started doing street photography when I was about 16 and it opened up into this whole other world – that this could actually be your job.

“I just kind of stuck at it and went with it.”

Photography wasn’t a course option at his college, but Lorenzo studied art and design instead and just kept on clicking.

Despite his obsession with taking photographs and having his own darkroom at home, Lorenzo said most of the photos he takes in his spare time never see the light of day.

“I have a lot of work that I can’t even remember,” he said. “Heaps of negatives and undeveloped rolls of film that I have from over the years and I have no idea what’s on them.

“I’m just sitting on an insane amount of photographs.

“I’m sure they would serve some purpose to someone down the line, perhaps when they’re trying to look back at what it was like in the mid 2000s.”

Lorenzo said it was hard to find the time to organise his archive alongside his busy career.

He went freelance full-time in 2016 and has built up a name for himself in the music and fashion industries – mostly by word of mouth.

“I think being a Londoner, you have circles of friends that you grew up with and you get referred and brought in on jobs and then, if it goes well, you get more jobs,” he said.

“I’ve been quite lucky, I’ve not really had to chase work much or really rely on using things like social media.”

The tours cover a range of styles including street photography

In fact, search online and you won’t find much evidence of his commercial work, as he prefers to operate discreetly.

But recently he has shot a documentary at the Dr Martens factory in Northampton and was waste-deep in a lake in Snowdonia to shoot a campaign for brand USC.

One of his biggest clients is Sony Music.

“I do a lot of album artwork and press shots, headshots,” said Lorenzo.

“You do end up rubbing shoulders with a lot of people but I avoid name dropping at all costs, so I’ve probably just taught myself to push it all down.”

When nudged he does reveal a pretty big name though.

“I was on a job with Cristiano Ronaldo last week and he turned out to be a nice guy,” he said. 

“The other 95% of the time, people have diva behaviour but I just keep my head down”.

He is now adding another string to his bow with the launch of his tours, created with support from Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency (GCDA).

Customers will be taught the basics such as how shutter speeds, apertures, depth and exposure can affect a photograph.

Lorenzo will also give guidance on how to alter composition using techniques such as angles perspective.

He will then lead clients on a route around Greenwich, starting at Borough Hall and ending at the market.

“There’s no end to the different types of characters that are about during the weekend,” said Lorenzo.

His most visited spot – the Old Royal Naval College – will also be included.

“It’s hands down my favourite,” he said.

“Especially this time of year when the autumnal light is  low and gold and dances around.  You can’t really take a bad picture there.”

Lorenzo is confident he has explored every part of Greenwich but said it still holds his interest and probably always will.

“I wanted to keep the tour very specific about the local community where I live because Greenwich is just such a beautiful place,” he said.

“It hasn’t been touched by gentrification too much so it’s kind of old school and I’m a bit of an old soul so I think that kind of works out.

“But London is always changing. When it does, you can rediscover it, which is pretty cool.”

Canary Wharf viewed from Greenwich Park

THE NITTY GRITTY

The two-hour tours are for those with their own digital or film camera.

They run every Saturday from 11am-1pm and cost £60 per person with a maximum of four people per tour.

The three-mile route starts at Borough Hall clock tower in Greenwich High Road and skirts around the market so people can try out street photography.

Next it will head to the Cutty Sark and along the riverside to the Old Royal Naval College.

Here the focus will shift to architectural photography and composition and clients will have five minutes to wander around.

Then it will be over to The Cutty Sark pub for river views before heading up Maze Hill and through the park to the observatory for a hill-top lesson on landscapes.

From there the tour will head back down into town for more street photography at the market.

Read more: How Bureau is offering creative workspace in Greenwich

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- Laura Enfield is a regular contributor to Wharf Life, writing about a wide range of subjects across Docklands and east London 
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Royal Docks: Why Silverspace Studios’ founders created an all-inclusive business

Image shows Michael Stuart-Daley and Calvin Mlilo of Silverspace

How Calvin Mlilo and Michael Stuart-Daley created a space for photographers, by photographers

Image shows Calvin and Michael in their studio
Michael Stuart-Daley, left, and Calvin Mlilo created Silverspace Studios in Royal Docks – image Matt Grayson

Both Calvin Mlilo and Michael Stuart-Daley want me to see Studio A. Our interview has come to an end just as their clients vacate the space. So the two photographers who founded Silverspace Studios together at The Silver Building in Royal Docks in 2018, can finally take me into the 400sq ft room where it all began.

Knowing that their studio hire business has since swelled to include a second nearly 700sq ft facility and office space just across the corridor, as well as an 800sq ft space in Elephant And Castle, I ask them how walking into the smallest room in their portfolio feels. A pause, then a quiet discussion about how to put their answer into words.

“I feel proud,” said Calvin. “It was a challenge when we first came in. You’d look at it and ask: ‘What the hell have we got ourselves into? Can we do this?’. Now, when you look at it, how this very room has trickled over into Studio B, Studio C and the office – it’s growth and growth. It’s our favourite room.”

“This is the baby,” added Michael. “You’d wake up with a smile on your face knowing you were going into work for yourself, for your business. “It was just us – we had to put our all into it and we have done that. Now this is us – full time.

“Pride is the key word. I remember the day we got the keys. It feels like it was yesterday. It’s been a lovely journey so far.”

“I love it when people book this space,” said Calvin. “For us it’s the beginning of everything.

“I love the potential of it. Your brain starts to work as soon as you step through the door.”

This spare white box with natural light flooding through windows along one side – framed by the bare brutalist concrete of the building – is a physical embodiment of Silverspace’s roots – the foundation of a project that has been 12 years in the making.

Both Calvin and Michael grew up in Newham, meeting while studying photography at the University Of East London. 

“At that time, we had the university studio and we could use that quite frequently,” said Calvin. “But after finishing university, you had to finance yourself.

“You’d get that bang in the face of needing £100 to book a studio – then there might be another £50 for equipment on top. It’s silly – being charged for using clips, clamps or a stand. It doesn’t help young creatives believe in the journey that they’re going through. It’s discouraging – spending £30-£40 on little things that you need for the shoot.”

“How many times have we been to a studio and it’s another £10 just to use a polyboard to bounce some light off?” said Michael. “You’d feel like you’re being fleeced.”

The solution was Silverspace – a place both photographers could use for their own projects, but also that others would be able to hire at an all-inclusive price with equipment and facilities folded into the basic price.

“That frustration, that hardship is where the business came from,” said Calvin. “We wanted to make a space for us to create in and then realised that there were a lot of people going through the same hardships we were – young people trying to get into the creative industries. We started small – turning an office space into Studio A.

“It had high ceilings – which work for photography – big windows, natural light, which you can work with, as well as using lighting. We turned it into a space so people could create portraits or shoot fashion.

“Then, when we outgrew that, it was about asking: ‘Can we go bigger?’. That’s how we’ve expanded – organically.”

Image shows Calvin Mlilo
Calvin says he and Michael feel pride when the look at what they’ve created – image Matt Grayson

Michael and Calvin were among the first tenants to take up residence at The Silver Building – a former building transformed for temporary commercial use by Projekt.

For the pair, who both still live in Newham, their business is also a way of encouraging the next generation.

“Providing affordable space that doesn’t break the bank, where you can come in and get things done, is essentially giving back for us,” said Michael.

“Through our years of studying at UEL, going through the stages of our careers, there have been a lot of opportunities where we’ve been given chances.

“Silverspace was, predominantly a space in the beginning for us to create. Once we realised other people needed it, we opened it up.

“Demand has gone through the roof. Getting the keys, on April Fool’s Day 2018 was the beginning of the journey. Over that three years it’s been an amazing experience – seeing the business grow, seeing how we’ve grown.

“Being a freelance photographer is completely different from running a business.

“We’d had experience as studio managers elsewhere, so we knew how to do one or two things, but now we deal with every aspect of the business. 

“If I could go back, I’d tell myself to ‘just keep doing what you’re doing’. That’s what has got us here. As photographers we were fortunate to be able to invest in ourselves – to buy equipment and get the things we needed to apply ourselves properly in the trade.

“For example, the Profoto lights we have now are the same ones we had when we started.”

Calvin added: “It’s important not to doubt yourself too much, to run your own race. On a personal level I was guilty of that – looking at people who’d been running studios for a long time and trying to put myself on that level.

“You just have to put the work in, apply yourself, do the hours and you’ll get the results. It’s also important not to over-think things. If you worry things are expensive you’ll never buy them – you just have to do it and trust that business investments will recoup the outlay.

“Working as photographers was our market research for the studios – asking ourselves: ‘What would we want?’. 

“So we created a space for us, by us and, at the same time realised a lot of other young people could benefit from that.    

“People are often surprised when everything’s included.  That’s the reaction we get quite a lot – it’s a specific service we provide and people come back for that. 

“We help out as well and I don’t know another studio that does that. Why not? We’re in the office anyway.”

Image show Michael Stuart-Daley
Michael says Silverspace is always happy to help clients with set-up and lighting – image Matt Grayson

Michael said: “If a group of us are in and someone needs advice, they’re tapping into a good 35 years of collective photographic experience. If someone shows us a reference picture, we can set the light up for them. People come back for that service.”

Calvin added: “If you have someone who’s starting out, that makes such a difference.”

Completely committed to their craft, the pair admit to spending 70-80% of the time they should have been studying in class at UEL, experimenting in its studio, and are keen that more people should get behind the lens and do the same. 

Michael, who has also tutored students at the university, said: “We were taught there were no mistakes in photography – if you made a mistake, then own it.

“So, if there are newbies coming into the studio, we’re there to give them a hand, to help calm their nerves so they can get the results they want whether that’s as a hobbyist or as someone embarking on a creative career.

“It is expensive equipment that we supply, but it’s there to do a job and, so long as it’s set up properly and safely, you don’t have to worry about it.”

See more of Calvin’s work here and Michael’s work here

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