London Life

I was born in London in 1972 and lived in Stockwell as a child, until my parents moved the family out of the city to Hampshire, where I grew up and spent my adult life until moving to Switzerland. We used to visit family in London on a regular basis from then on and I began taking myself back into the city from about the age of nineteen, when a friend and I first started driving in to visit the Hard Rock Café at Hyde Park Corner. From then on, friends and I headed further and further into the city centre, finding clubs and pubs, attending the Comedy Store and starting to get to know the city better.

A lot of the people I knew moved up to London and its suburbs and I spent many weekends there, not only staying with friends but also driving up from home to spend days shopping, wandering around markets in Camden, Wimbledon and Kensington, and taking photographs on the street. Everything and everyone was interesting to my observational eye and when I’d visit galleries and museums, I’d always have a camera with me.

Underneath the clock at Waterloo station.

Since moving away from the UK, I miss these jaunts into London, which now only take place once a year at most. I still know my way around well, navigating the shortest route between stations using the tube or pounding the busy streets on foot. The city hasn’t changed all that much since I used to visit regularly although it’s a different experience for me now. I take far more photos than I ever used to and my time away from the UK has changed my outlook on life and on my home city. My skill as a photographer has improved vastly over the past ten years and my eye for a picture has changed. Where I used to photograph strangers on the street a lot of the time, hoping for special decisive moments, my photographic eye and the interests in what I now refer to as “travel photography“. What now interests me is much less the special coincidence of a moment, but much more the course of life and the history which so many of us seem to miss as we go about our daily lives.

Over the past couple of years, I have begun tapping into more and more websites, reading more and becoming much more interested in storytelling and the picture essay. I hope that my website reflects that and is interesting to its readers, particularly when I’m out and about and return with a picture or set of pictures and a story to tell. Bern is my current interest, as I work here every day and began exploring the city in my lunchtimes, hopping on trams and buses to find my way around and perhaps fill a part of the gap which was left when I stopped visiting London so often. I try to show places alongside an explanation of my view of them, telling a story or my personal history of a place, while showing friends and family who are far away my own photographic view of such places.

I came across Konstantin Binder’s website a couple of years ago, I think, and very much enjoy reading his own views on travelling around London and its suburbs. Konstantin, whose German language website “London Leben” (London Life) is full of interesting short tales and great illustrative photos of the places he visits, seems to be very much like me in the way he views the city: he is fascinated by the seemingly endless and infinite history and detail in all areas.

Photos such as the one below, which is a good example of the kind of place which draws Konstantin’s attention, are the kinds of photograph I would take of London these days, were I there more often. Places which locals would perhaps no longer notice after a while, but which stand out tremendously as a sign of the huge mix of culture and history which formed many parts of the city, falling slightly into disrepair and remaining charmingly scruffy around the edges. Places like this, which Konstantin shares so well and so kindly, define part of my national culture and part of my own identity. I wish I could visit places of such unusual history and such unique character a little more often, but until I can, I thank Konstantin for bringing them to me via a little window into his world.

2 responses to “London Life”

  1. Kate avatar

    Ah the Captain Kidd. I have sudden flash-backs to many great days and nights spent there in my former life. Great photo – love the clipper.

  2. Graham MS avatar
    Graham MS

    Yes, your posts are interesting and well written. While my own preference is for “artistic” photography, I’m also interested in storytelling series. Alas, time is always the stumbling block for many photographers.

    I’ll be in London for a day next month, so I’ll be looking for the “decisive moments”.

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