Worldwide icon-chevron-right Europe icon-chevron-right United Kingdom icon-chevron-right England icon-chevron-right London icon-chevron-right This photographer captures the unseen side of London’s suburbs

This photographer captures the unseen side of London’s suburbs

Niall McDiarmid’s pictures will make you look at Mitcham, Clapham and Tooting in a whole new light

By Alice Zoo |
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Niall McDiarmid Southwestern - Cafe
Photograph: Niall McDiarmid

South-west London isn’t known for its bright lights. Leafy, mostly pretty affluent and generally characterised as a bit ordinary and suburban, this corner of town is often overlooked, not least by photographers prowling for shots of urban life. But not by Niall McDiarmid.

Having spent a career making work about Britain’s landscape and residents, the prolific photographer has just published a new book of documentary street photography focusing on the area of London he’s called home for 30 years.

Southwestern’ is the product of a decade of patient image-making. Using potent golden-hour lighting and primary colours, McDiarmid produces many of his pictures on walks around these lesser-depicted parts of the capital on quiet Sundays, or after he’s dropped his kids off at school.

We asked him to pick his favourite photographs from the book, which turns the capital’s sleepy south-west into a story well worth telling. You’ll never see Clapham the same way again.

Southwestern
Photograph: Niall McDiarmid

⬆ ‘This is Tooting, but it looks like it could be Los Angeles. Maybe south London is more glamorous than people think.’

Southwestern
Photograph: Niall McDiarmid

⬆ ‘I remember people joking about this building, saying, “How did the Socialist Party get the money to have a big shop on Clapham High Street?”’

Southwestern
Photograph: Niall McDiarmid

⬆ ‘I’m drawn to carnivals and fairgrounds: there’s an edge to them. This image of a fairground on Clapham Common being packed up suggests a romantic idea of life on the road.’

Southwestern
Photograph: Niall McDiarmid

⬆ ‘I got chatting to this woman in Mitcham who was waiting for a bus and asked if I could do a portrait. She was very apprehensive, but then she agreed. It taught me a lesson about being a bit persuasive.’

Southwestern
Photograph: Niall McDiarmid

⬆ ‘I took this picture in a café in Summerstown and never really noticed it. Then I posted it on social media and it went completely viral. You need to look at some pictures a little bit longer.’

‘Southwestern’ by Niall McDiarmid is available now.

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