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Colin O’Brien’s wonderful new book : London Life

2015 June 30

Snapshot Colin O'Brien Cover

I  recently attended the launch of Colin O’Brien’s new book. This well produced hardback covering Colin’s photographic life in London over the decades is a fascinating collection. Although I had seen some of the images before, the book includes explanatory text. This  is not about shutter speeds or time for developing chemicals but the people included in the photographs. I am sure that Colin did not go round London seeking out the “last of” but the sometime nostalgic quality is derived from the mostly ordinary everyday activities that are not normally caught on camera and have disappeared from the landscape.Why bother photographing a street without cars since it seems to be “always there”? Why capture the horse of the rag and bone man in Lower Clapton Road , a one time everyday occurrence? Because Colin did capture the ordinary and quotidian life in London we now have a wonderful record of past times that barely feature in our memories.

I was privileged to be able to use Colin’s image on the cover of the Public History Reader.I also noted here his earlier book on travellers’ children in London Fields. If you do not know his work already I would strongly encourage you to buy this very reasonably priced book (£25) as a fascinating introduction.

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