London Street Photography

Yesterday Alex and I went to the London Street Photography exhibition at the
Museum of London.

The exhibition includes over 150 photographs from 1860 to the present day and captures people going about their daily lives on London’s streets.

The exhibition brings together the work of 59 photographers including Paul Trevor, John Thomson and Henry Grant and focuses on their motives and the wider social and cultural contexts in which they worked. There are fun images that play on the juxtaposition of the subjects in the pictures, as well as more serious content that deal with race relations and how Londoners coped during the World Wars.

There is a 20 minute film that includes photographers Paul Trevor, Wolf Suschitzy, Polly Braden and Matt Stuart talking about their experiences of street photography and what it means to them as well as the current public attitude to street photography which they believe is endangering the genre.

One of the images that stood out for me was “The Pea-skip” by Matt Stuart. The Pea-skip, to me epitomises what street photography is about - seeing and reacting to your environment to tell a story in a single frame.

I found the exhibit very interesting as a documentary of the history of London life. There are a number of short films in the exhibit that show people going about their everyday life in London in the late 1800s. To see people in locations that I pass on a daily basis and to see the progress as well as the diversity of society is eye-opening. There have been some major changes in people’s wardrobes and the transport we use, but many buildings standing in 1870, for example, are still standing strong today. This is the beauty of street photography. In its simplicity, it offers glimpses into other people’s lives as well as the world around us, that we do not often get a chance to see, especially as these days we all seem to be moving at warp speed.

It would be a shame to see street photography die out due to events in the last decade or so as today’s world is so different from 100 years ago, that for future generations, we need to document for them how we came to those changes.


So pleased I came across your blog, as I have just returned from this exhibition and was googling like mad to get the name of Matt Stuart (from the documentary) I thought it was a great exhibition!

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