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Meet Emmanuel Cole: the Instagrammer documenting the characters of inner-city London

Luke Abrahams

East London-born photographer Emmanuel Cole began snapping the city after his uncle helped him buy his first DSLR back in 2011. 146,000 followers later, Emmanuel has become one of the city's top 'grammers and is known for his intimate and gritty documentary-style portraits of inner-city London life. From the streets of Brixton to Notting Hill, the train tracks of Bermondsey to the alleyways of Soho, this is one urban photographer every Londoner needs to take notice of. Here are his five favourite images. 

December 13 2015 at 8.53pm 


A photo posted by Emmanuel Cole (@ecolephoto) on

'I took this shot sometime in 2014. I was on a photoshoot with a friend and as we were crossing the road by Leicester Square I noticed this couple sharing a cigarette as they are in the photo.  I asked the lady if she could help me recreate the moment while I was crossing the road. As you could imagine, this had to happen pretty fast as I was in the middle of the road. Lucky for me it all worked out well.'

October 22 2015 at 12.15am


A photo posted by Emmanuel Cole (@ecolephoto) on

'I remember noticing this gentleman on the platform at Tottenham Court Road underground. His style really stood out to me. We ended up sitting opposite each other on the tube. A couple stops in, I looked up and saw exactly the picture I wanted to take. It was quite a nervy and intimate moment, but nevertheless it’s still a favorite of mine.'

Fritz from Catford 


A photo posted by Emmanuel Cole (@ecolephoto) on

'I moved to south-east London around 13 months ago and heard a lot about this London character named Fritz. I was walking down my high street on this particular day and ended up recognising him in the dry cleaners collecting his clothes. I introduced myself and asked if he'd be happy to pose for a picture. As you can see from the photo, he had no problem doing that.'

The Walking Dead


A photo posted by Emmanuel Cole (@ecolephoto) on

I’m pretty sure this image is from 2012, the first year I started taking photos on my phone. I used to work in the London Bridge area back then. Sometimes I'd get up a few hours earlier so I could take some photos before work. On this particular morning it was very foggy - a condition I enjoy photographing in – and I like this shot because of the cinematic vibe.'

March 22 2016 at 10.50pm


A photo posted by Emmanuel Cole (@ecolephoto) on

'I just happened to see this guy cradling his dogs in these puppy bags and asked him if I could take his picture. He obliged and I ended up with this. Sometimes you just get lucky because you don’t know what you’ll see on the tube.'

Follow Emmanuel on Instagram for more snippets of London life at @ecolephoto.

And for more interesting Instagrams, check out Paul Conner's dynamite pictures of Bushy Park.


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