Every bank holiday weekend in August since 1966, the streets in Notting Hill in West London play host to Europe's largest street party, The Notting Hill Carnival, (the second largest party in the world after Rio's).
With over 1 million people over the 2 days, many visitors, locals and tourists alike brave the sardine-packed streets to experience the mega sound systems, the colourful costumes, floats, Samba dancers, drummers, Chinese acrobats and of course the food the drink ala Caribbean-style.
Rum punch, brandy shots and jerk chicken with rice and peas, fried plantain, and lots and lots of beer thrown in or up, whichever suits your fancy.
I arrived early and walked the back streets and prep areas before the actual float parade started at noon. I usually prefer this routine than to come later and get stuck at the many bottle-necked entry points the police have set up to control the flow of people.
This way I get to photograph the performers getting ready and just chilling out in anticipation of their street performance for the rest of the day.
I intended to focus on faces and got a few that I like, just carrying my favourite portrait lens, the 85mm f1.8. Setting the aperture to f2.0 and getting up close would create a nice background blur to isolate the face from the often distracting background of street furniture and buildings. I also brought along my small Ricoh GRD2 to capture the wider scenes of the days, which was invaluable as i can often get real close to the scene without attracting attention.
Mind you, almost everyone had cameras, so the performers weren't camera shy. That made it easier to photograph complete strangers close up.