Every day I join the 5 million or so people who commute using London’s Underground system. Love it or hate it, London would be lost without it. After the location of our office moved from central London to Ladbroke Grove, I used the longer journeys to watch the previous night’s telly and other series. After I’d caught up with that and had enough of scrolling through Twitter and Instagram feeds, it was time to put the phone away.
Taking my phone out of vision opened up a whole new world, that had really been there all along. There were people squeezing in makeup routines by the time the train stopped at the station, people lost in their music almost forgetting where they were, hundreds of apparent sleep deprived commuters getting a few extra winks and recently I caught someone tucking into a breakfast of cottage cheese straight out of the tub spooning it out with a European health card! I kid you not.
As an art director I’ve always enjoyed visual things, I’ve always loved street photography, so it felt natural to try out the candid style with this newfound commuting time I now had.
I was fascinated and got quite hooked on this voyeuristic commute. I would try to remain fairly inconspicuous (as much as you can with a camera on your lap) and snap what was in front or around me, interesting people or scenes going on. I started to see patterns on my commute, the same people at the same time, those eager people dashing on to the train to get ‘their’ seat and the same people with new hairdos. The commute has become quite a ritual, one that has gone from killing time to documenting my stretch of London.
What started as a fun project to kill a bit of time has become a little bit of an obsession and I’m now starting to think about where I will take it next. Perhaps I’ll try and use the power of social media to track down some of the people I’ve photographed, then interview and shoot their portrait a little less stealthily.
It’s been great to have been selected by The Handbook as one of the top 20 London Instagram accounts to keep an eye on this year – no pressure!
Give it a follow and perhaps I’ll see you on the underground.