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The Hackney Marshes in East London are located next to the River Lea. With lockdown measures gradually easing, and following months of being cooped up indoors, people have been flocking towards the banks of the River Lea to participate in wild swimming, BBQing and general partying. The risks posed by the Corona Virus appear to be outweighed by a yearning for social interaction. Equipped with the brand-new Leica M10-R, British photographer Robin Sinha documents an area of regained joie de vivre, and portrays the people who long for socialising as in times before Corona.

LFI: What ignited your passion for photography?
Robin Sinha: Since starting to work for Leica in 2009, I’ve been exposed to the projects of many of the photography greats, particularly in the area of documentary and street. I’ve been fortunate to meet with and directly hear from the likes of Elliott Erwitt, Joel Meyerowitz and Alex Webb. Witnessing their passion for photography first-hand has been truly inspiring.

What was it like to work with the Leica M10-R?
The M10-R was a delight to work with. I’ve used M cameras for many years and they’ve long been my camera of choice for street and documentary work. They are just so discrete and nonthreatening, and it’s so much easier to approach people. What specifically impressed me about the M10-R was the high ISO capability. With its much higher resolution sensor I wasn’t expecting improved performance. The files shot at high ISO appear to be the cleanest I’ve seen on any colour digital M.

You photograph a lot of people. What is the most important thing for you in portrait photography?
An honest portrayal is always high on the agenda when I’m taking a portrait. I try to keep preconceived ideas at bay and strive to reveal an element of my sitter’s character.

Do you have any particular approach for the “perfect” portrait?
Certainly not for a “perfect” portrait. However, for what I consider my more successful portraits, I’ve been able to put my sitters at ease, to the point at which they are no longer performing for the camera. I may achieve this by simply conversing with my subjects prior to raising the camera to my eye, or by offering clear instruction in terms of how I’d like them to pose. I don’t often select one of these posed images, however the instruction is often what helps people relax and in turn leads to something less contrived. I find my approach has to adapt depending on the character.

You shot this project in Corona times. How does it differ from your other projects?
This project differs from previous projects for that very reason. It’s a historic and important time to be capturing life - a snapshot of human behaviour during unprecedented times. (Interview: Danilo Rößger)

All images on this page © Robin Sinha
Equipment: Leica M10-R with Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 Asph
© José Sarmento Matos

Robin Sinha

Robin describes his photography as ‘people-led’, working within the portraiture, street and documentary realm. In 2009, Robin joined Leica UK where he works as the lead Akademie workshop tutor. In 2018, he was shortlisted for two prestigious photography awards: The Portrait of Britain and the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. Most recently Robin’s project All dressed up and nowhere to go was published in The Guardian, Il Corriere della Sera and on the BBC news website.

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