Women gambling, Southam Street, London. Copyright Roger Mayne, 1956
I want to share my enthusiasm for Roger Mayne’s street photography. Born in 1929 and educated at Oxford, he seemed destined for a conventional career. But he didn’t enjoy chemistry – and by the time he graduated, his photography had already been featured in Picture Post magazine.
Mayne’s most famous body of work was shot in Southam Street, a rough part of north Kensington, London. He first visited the area in the mid 1950s and went back time and time again. Having gained the trust and acceptance of the community, he was able to capture everyday street life freely. His pictures are full of warmth and affection, but they’re never sentimental.
Boys smoking, north Kensington, London. Copyright Roger Mayne, 1956
Two boys in Southam Street, London. Copyright Roger Mayne, 1956
“The reason for photographing poor streets is that I love them,” he wrote. And that’s why his pictures of north Kensington have such enduring appeal. They document a time and a place with deep feeling.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit the current exhibition of his work at The Photographers’ Gallery in London. Featuring a cross-section of Mayne’s photographs, the exhibition continues until 11 June 2017. And if you arrive before midday, there’s no charge.
If you can’t get to London, have a look at his website – www.rogermayne.com – and let me know what you think.