An exhibition of “London Street Photography” opened last week at the Museum of London. It provides a fascinating glimpse of London life throughout the last 150 years, using street photography largely from the museum’s archive that has not been widely exhibited before.
London Street Photography brings together the work of almost 60 photographers. Some of the interesting inclusions are by the less well-known ones, including the first female photojournalist to work in the UK.
From the faded blurry images at the beginnings of the new technology of the camera to the sharp colourful images taken with digital cameras today, we can examine fleeting moments captured in London’s streets. Though the photography styles and technology have changed dramatically, it struck me that there are common threads throughout the decades. Images show people’s changing looks and lifestyles, areas changed and rebuilt. But they also show the consistently multicultural character of London.
I was struck by the scenes of Chinese New Year – a celebration we captured with some of our own images this year in London’s Chinatown. Also captured are Portuguese community celebrating football victory, along with images of everyday street life and occasional tensions such as hippies and skinheads crossing paths in the late 1960s.
The exhibition documents the city through times of change and conflict – highlighting the importance of photography in providing us with a connection to the past.
The museum has also recently launched a London iphone app which shows you glimpses of London’s past as you move around the present day city:
“Streetmuseum gives you a unique perspective of old and new London whether you’re discovering the capital for the first time or revisiting favourite haunts. Hundreds of images from the Museum of London’s extensive collections showcase both everyday and momentous occasions in London’s history, from the Great Fire of 1666 to the swinging sixties.”
Both the app and the exhibition are well worth a look in my opinion.
The “London Street Photography” exhibition is free and runs until 4 September at The Museum of London, 150 London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN.
• Jon Wedderburn is an expert on multilingual content for print and online at WorldAccent Translation, London