Dialogue Europe Photo Essays

A Tale of Two Cities

Story and photos by Marcus Mahtemework

Remembering to take pictures is hard. 

Well, at least for me it is. In years past, the responsibility largely fell on my mother to document our travels, a task she was more than willing to oblige at the time. The catch? She has a talent for (quite literally) taking the worst photos of my brother and me ever — not even her iPhone 13 Pro Max can save her!

I knew in setting off on a dialogue this past May that it was up to me to be diligent when it came to recording my experiences. This may not sound terrible, but as someone with a battered cellphone, and a chronically short attention span, I had a feeling that I would be in for a challenge. The solution? I bought an old film camera online and painstakingly learned all of its mechanics, just in time for my departure date. At least now, I had both the agency, as well as the means, to selectively chronicle my travels without having to pose in front of random tourist attractions with my younger brother. 

With all this said, I think it may be time to move onto the photo essay. My summer excursions consisted of travel in four European capitals, with two cities standing out in particular: London and Copenhagen. While I did have my fair share of fun, perhaps the biggest revelation of my trip was understanding just how much creative freedom I actually possessed via photography. 

The outcome, for better or worse, is really just a random assortment of photos from my time abroad, with only a single thing in common: an emphasis on people, alongside their social rituals. 

Islington, London: A neighborhood youth poses for a picture in the shade, photo creds to a local security guard.
Westminster, London: A crowd of people revel in the Queen’s platinum jubilee parade, a celebration that marked her 70th year as the head of the royal household.

Brick Lane, London: A man walks past a wall of poignant street art, a notable feature of London’s iconic Brick Lane neighborhood.
Shoreditch, London: A pop-up drum and bass concert inside of a tunnel, featuring a popular local DJ.
Wembley Park, London: A duo of stressed out Italian football supporters in the foreground, contrasted with a jubilant section of Argentine fans in the backdrop.
Wembley Park, London: A sold-out crowd of 90,000 honoring Leo Messi’s standout performance against Italy in what could be one of his final matches for Argentina.
Copenhagen, Denmark: A skater in town for Red Bull’s ‘Skate Week’ pictured attempting to nail a 360 degree loop. Behind my own lens is a packed skatepark of onlookers and photographers. 
Holbæk, Denmark: People celebrate the summer solstice on a beach embankment in Holbæk, a scenic town north of Copenhagen.
Copenhagen, Denmark: Lunch on a rooftop in Copenhagen’s central square.