Another Face in the Crowd
The first thing that came into my mind when asked to produce a portfolio for my course, was London. It’s a place I love to visit, it’s streets are seeped in history, creativity and diversity. From the architecture to the people.
It was the people I wanted to concentrate on, such a vast spectrum of life rushing all over the city, I felt I had to capture some. When I arrived to begin the project I started to document all different kinds of people, but one group in particular caught my attention. Greater London is over 600 square miles spread across 33 boroughs, with a population of over 8 million but the faces that stood out in the crowd for me were the ones that most just simply walk by. Homeless people, street performers and street vendors of all cultures. These faces are often forgotten quickly, lost in a fast moving metropolis of money and tourism. A place where you can loose yourself in overcrowded, bustling streets. Where you can quickly become just another face in the crowd, they were all I could see.
I decided that these faces would be the stars of my project. These faces with stories to tell captured my attention very quickly and over the course of my project I spoke to many different people, of all different circumstances, cultures and backgrounds. I wanted to show the faces of the homeless that are so often forgotten, the street performers often taken for granted and the hard working people bringing different cultures to us from all around the world. This is a project I wanted to create for anyone to enjoy, for people to stop and notice the faces of people with fantastic stories to tell. I hope that people in these photographs will become the forefront of the city every time the photographs are looked at.
During my research for this project I came across many different documentary pieces of London life, as well as some urban street photography from other cities around the world. Whilst searching the internet for inspiration into other photographers work, I found a project called ‘Humans of New York’ by Brandon Stanton. Stanton is from Atlanta, Georgia and began taking photographs and interviewing the people of New York for a project that he started back in 2010. His plan was to photograph and interview 10,000 people for his blog and this was tuned into a book in 2013. What I loved about his work is his ability to capture the story of his subject without having to read the interview alongside it. I adore the diversity of the people in the collection, as well as glimpses of the streets of New York in the background. I have tried to apply this method in my project, to capture the stories of these people by simply taking their photograph. Another influence for my project was Vivien Maier. I find her story fascinating, working most of her life as a nanny only pursuing photography as a hobby. Perhaps it is this approach that adds the warmth to her photographs, giving them so much more than just documenting life passing by. I get the feeling of being amongst the people, rather than an outsider looking in with a camera. I feel a more personal approach to what she saw all around her, her photographs take you right into the moment they were taken and it’s as if you could have a conversation with her subjects like you knew them. I tried to get this approach across in my project making sure I spent time with my subjects, to really get their story across in just one shot.
I decided to use a closer range lens for my work, more like portraiture. I felt this lens gave a more intimate feel to each shot. I wanted to get a close feel of the person in the photograph. You see the diversity, their creativity and hear their stories, it’s written all over their face. The way I have decided to present them is to give a reversed sense of importance. I have placed the homeless, often thought of as the lowest contributors in society at the end. I wanted the roles revered, they are the climax of this piece. The faces I want everyone to remember.
Natalie Abraham AKA Mostly Mummy