Street photography is all about capturing pockets of candid moments out in the world. Whether it's the mundane familiarity of the rush hour commute, spontaneous and tender interaction between strangers, or the striking and sometimes uncomfortable goings-on of a city's dark underbelly, street photography is all about painting a picture of everyday life.
And what better city to do it in than London? This city is one of the most diverse across the globe - every corner brings a new story and a new world to capture. The best London street photographers are those that immerse themselves in these opportunities, and see potential in every inch of this urban jungle. If you don't know where to start in this bustling metropolis, check out our article on the best places to photograph in London.
Crucially, street photography is never posed, staged, or curated. This means that the work of street photographers in London is about being intuitive and observant, and being able to act in an instant to capture moments that evoke the essence of a city and its inhabitants, moments which can so easily be lost as we walk around thinking of other things.
In this article, we'll look at the 12 best London street photographers:
- Dimpy Bhalotia
- Nico Goodden
- Ronya Galka
- Michael McIlvaney
- Alan Schaller
- Emmanuel Cole
- Linda Wisdom
- Joshua K Jackson
- Giacomo Mason
- Matt Stuart
- Mauro Cocilo
- Michael Wayne Plant
Dimply Bhalotia is a street photographer in London and Bombay. Her work has won her multiple awards and accolades and has seen her published in international publications from the Washington Post, to Forbes, the BBC, and GQ Magazine. She is also the founder and curator of an international street photography business called 'Pure Street Photography', which aims to support and celebrate street photographers across the globe.
On her website, Bhalotia talks about how "street photography is her visual lexicon, which has no smokescreen". In other words, she uses street photography to uncover and reveal the truth about the world around us; through her lens, she captures real moments amidst the chaos and uses black and white to refine and simplify our perception.
Bhalotia loves to play with angles in her photography, which brings an intriguing twist to her compositions. Unfamiliar perspectives shift the viewer's awareness of an image and its subjects and give an experimental and poetic feel.
Check out her Instagram for some highlights of her work.
2. Nico Goodden
Nico Gooden is a street, event and nature photographer working mainly in London and Dorset. Having worked as a photographer and videographer for 15 years, Goodden has collected an impressive list of clients, including Adidas, Peugeot, and Amazon, and has been featured in the likes of Time Out, Guardian, and Evening Standard. Goodden shares his expertise on his blog, as well as in his upcoming book How to take amazing photos (which will be released on the 13th April 2023), so if you want to learn from someone who has risen the ranks, he's well worth checking out.
Shooting both in black and white and colour, Goodden's style is frank, nostalgic, and playful. Although he makes these satisfying compositions feel effortless and spontaneous, his articles reveal his extensive arsenal of techniques, including using leading lines, negative space, and the rule of thirds. If you're looking to improve your skillset or decide which photos to use in your photography portfolio, Goodden's advice can serve as a great tool.
Having previously had a successful career in sales and marketing, Goodden has the unique experience of being able to understand and relate to many of his clients' pressures and requirements. He is also a registered drone pilot, meaning he can legally and responsibly operate drones for his photography work.
Though you won't find any of his street photography there, Goodden dedicates his Instagram to his collection of fungi photography.
3. Ronya Galka
Ronya Galka is a London-based street photographer, originally from Germany. She has worked with clients such as Penguin Random House, British Airways, and AirBnB. Galka has been shortlisted for a number of prestigious awards and has had her work exhibited in both Liberty’s of London and the Pall Mall Gallery in London. She is also a contributor to The New Street Photographer's Manifesto.
Striving for simple and honest reflections of an urban landscape, Galka's photographs are timeless and emotive, aided by her affinity for black and white. They often portray enduring narratives that are instantly recognisable and relatable, whether it's a couple embracing in the rain, a man reading a book on his morning commute, or a woman staring musingly out of a café window. These uncomplicated images are brimming with stories and emotions that we all know too well.
As with many street photographers, Galka is intent on capturing the people (and the world) we often ignore. Informed by her own experience working in corporate London, she forces us to reassess the apparent monotony of city life.
Check out Galka's Instagram if you want to discover more.
Michael McIlvaney is an award-winning street photographer in London, whose work has been featured in the BBC, Guardian, and LensCulture. Driven by a curiosity towards people and the places they inhabit, McIlvaney revels in "transforming otherwise mundane scenes into moments of theatre" through his street photography.
The city, McIlvaney so aptly puts it, is "the place where the public and private spheres jostle", and where, if he's lucky, he can capture moments "when the emotional guard slips". It's easy to lose sight of the tender, human aspects of each other when we're rushing about the city performing our societal roles, but street photography reveals these moments where a person's private core emerges in the public arena.
Taking advantage of the architectural landscape around him, McIlvaney uses both the artificial and natural lighting of the city, along with shadows and structures, to create dramatic frames for his photographs, which often feature people walking alone around the city.
McIlvaney's Instagram page presents a curation of some of his best pieces.
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Alan Schaller is a street photographer in London, who has been featured in the likes of the Guardian, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, and has worked for clients such as Nokia, Apple, and Philips. He is also responsible for co-founding the Street Photography International Collective (SPi), which provides a platform for street photographers to upskill, promote their work, and connect with others in the industry.
His work takes an abstract approach to street photography, playing with contrast and elements of geometry to deliver photos that feel surrealist and poetic in nature. He uses everyday materials and phenomena (like smoke, shadows, and reflections) as well as cinematic techniques such as filming with drones to subvert our perception of reality, and reveal images that make us think twice about these depictions of our 'ordinary' world.
If you're looking to start a photography business or develop your street photography skills, why not learn from one of the best in the industry? Schaller provides 1 on 1 street photography workshops in London (available to book on his website), where he advises on technique, promotion, and philosophy.
Follow Schaller on Instagram for regular posts of his latest work.
Emmanuel Cole is a self-taught London-based street photographer, working predominantly in east and southeast London. He has worked for clients such as AirBnB, Converse, and the US Embassy, and recently collaborated with The Photographer's Gallery to produce a street photography workshop, so keep your eyes peeled to catch the next one!
Cole's work is people-centric, and his images serve as a window into the lives and souls of London's inhabitants, particularly those in working class and black communities. His style is raw and honest, giving his subjects centre stage. It's less of the corporate London that many on this list choose to capture, and more of the communities at the heart of this city; people in their element, at home or amongst their tribe, or working in shops and restaurants outside of the City (with a big C).
His intimate photography has earned him a loyal following on Instagram, where he posts a curated collection of his work.
7. Linda Wisdom
Linda Wisdom is a self-taught, award-winning street photographer in London, who has been featured in magazines including Amateur Photographer and Digital Camera Magazine. She has worked with clients such as Jessops, BBC Radio, and AirBnB, for whom she has worked as a tour host and tutor. Wisdom also set up London's first-ever street photography meetup group back in 2009, called We Shoot People, which remains a flourishing community of street photographers. She also offers 1-2-1 and group workshops on street photography, as well as private photo tours in London.
Intent on exposing "hidden truths" through her work, Wisdom looks to capture the candid, ordinary beauty that surrounds us in this world. As she herself notes: "the daily mundane and routine of life can pass you by if you do not open your eyes, heart and mind". Through her own, she gives her audience a new lens through which to view the world, one that exposes us to the rich emotion and intrigue that lives inside these moments.
Clean and nostalgic, Wisdom's photographs cut through the noise and reveal timeless snapshots of everyday life in London. If you want to stay up to date on her work, follow her on her Twitter and Instagram pages.
Joshua K Jackson is a street photographer in London, whose debut monograph, Sleepless in Soho, was published by Setanta Books in 2020. He has also been featured in publications such as Architectural Digest, BBC, and Dazed, and has worked for clients like Apple, Hendrick's, and Google.
His work often has a futuristic, almost dystopian feel to it, exaggerated through pops of neon colour and artificial light against otherwise dark, dramatic compositions. This distinctive and unusual aesthetic paints the city of London in a new light and spurs us to think about what it reveals. It's worth remembering that just because street photography is intended to serve as an 'honest' depiction of everyday life, doesn't mean that you can't touch up your images using photo editing software in post-production, to clean up your images and add dramatic effect.
In his new book especially (titled Modern Paradox), Jackson talks about using chaos as a backdrop, and there is something about his quiet compositions that implies a world of chaos behind the scenes, without ever showing it. In this way, Jackson has the ability not only to build a narrative through his photographs but to encourage the viewer to continue it on their own.
Giacomo Mason is an Italian-born travel and street photographer now based in London.
With a particular love for east London's Ridley Road (in his "adoptive home" of Dalston), Mason captures the heart of London through its diverse collection of inhabitants. There is a distinct sense of wit in much of Mason's photography, which seems to reveal a bright, buoyant London, full of irony and humour. A refreshing reminder for us all!
Of course, Mason also captures the more serious, tender moments of everyday life, not just in London, but around the world on his travels. If you want to sign up for a regular stream of his work, follow him on his Instagram.
10. Matt Stuart
Matt Stuart is a London-based photographer, whose career as a street photographer has spanned 15 years and has seen him publish several books on the discipline, including a street photographer manual: Think Like A Street Photographer, and a curation of some of the best street photography: Reclaim the Street: Street Photography's Moment. His curiosity and "fascination with people" has seen him flourish in the world of street photography in London.
One of his specialities has to be the ability to harness serendipity and capture interactions (both between people and the city environment itself) that meld together to form momentary metaphors or distortions of everyday life.
Bright and light-hearted, Stuart gifts us with an unfamiliar and playful view of the city we all know and love. To stay up to date with his latest projects, follow him on his Instagram and Twitter pages.
11. Mauro Cocilo
Mauro Cocilo is an Italian-born street photographer now based in London, known for his depiction of homeless people throughout the city. His work has seen him featured in a number of magazines, including i-D, Time Out and Dazed & Confused.
Through his work photographing homeless communities in London, Cocilo forces us to acknowledge "the fragility of life, life, loneliness, loss, abuse and pride". This dark underbelly of society is one that so often goes unreported, and the people that are forced to live through these experiences are routinely dehumanised and disregarded.
Somewhat elusive, Cocilo's website is no longer live, and his latest work is from when he documented how homelessness had changed during the pandemic, in 2020 and 2021. You can find a collection of his photographs on his Blogspot, as well as his Instagram page, and guest feature in Map6.
Michael Wayne Plant is a street photographer in London. He was born in New Zealand and has taken his work across the globe, dabbling in various styles and formats of photography. He has shared his knowledge working as a photographer tutor and lecturer, as well as an Imaging Ambassador for Sony.
Plant's street photography in London captures the corporate corner of the bustling City, encouraging the viewer to reconsider the seemingly homogenous sea of suits that we have become so accustomed to in this area of London. Whilst his street photography addresses this world from a social perspective, he also works as a commercial photographer for the Financial Services sector in London, where he helps companies build their corporate branding and reputation.
Plant writes regularly on his online blog, and curates helpful resources on techniques, photography equipment and ideas for photographers. For regular updates on what he's posting, follow him on Twitter.
Looking through this collection of 12 of the best street photographers in London, it's clear to see why it remains such a popular genre of photography. Street photography in London gives us access to new views and narratives of this beloved city and encourages us to investigate and question the world around us, which we can so often take for granted.
Street photography is a great way to get yourself out there and practice your technique and style. All you need is a camera, some patience and curiosity, and you can begin your journey to showcasing the beauty and intricacies of ordinary life.
This can come in handy not just for those looking to get into street photography itself, but for aspiring portrait photographers or lifestyle photographers who want to practice the art of capturing the human essence, without seeking out clients or subjects to practice on.
Looking at other street photographers in London is a great way to see how this is achieved by leading professionals within the industry. Immerse yourself in creative inspiration, and learn from the best in the business. For more inspiration from some of London's best photographers, why not check out these upcoming photography exhibitions in London.
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