26 Oct 2010

lost London street photographers

I've recently re-visited Mike Seaborne's book "Photographers' London: 1839-1994" and it's made me curious about the content of the Museum of London's street photography show next year. The book features a number of photographers who recorded street life in a variety of styles who've had little recognition in the surge of interest in the genre in recent years. For example it would be great to see references to people such as Paul Martin and Margaret Monck.
Here are examples of their respective work courtesy of two great online resources, photoLondon, now no longer updated but still useful, and Exploring 20th Century London.
Blind man at the Caledonian Cattle Market, c. 1895 by Paul Augustus Martin
A man carries milk bottles through an unidentified street by Margaret Monck
I'd also be interested to see any work of the many "Anonymous" photographers documented in the book too. In particular I'm fascinated by these four images entitled "Shoppers in Sutton High Street, c. 1930".
Shoppers in Sutton High Street, c. 1930 by Anonymous
Apart from the period in which they are taken, which is of particular interest to me, I enjoy the relative incongruity of their location. A popular history of street photography would place these in New York or Paris, even Moscow. Sutton, UK doesn't quite fit the received narrative.

I hope the Museum of London's new exhibition seizes the opportunity to present an alternative perspective. One which challenges the notions that this style of photography is new to London, transplanted from continental Europe and the States, and practitioners such as Roger Mayne and Tony Ray-Jones are exceptional rather than part of a continuing tradition.

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