Wayward double-decker buses. Speed-walkers rushing with their heads down. Stray umbrellas at every turn. Oxford Street is filled with obstacles that might ruin a photographer’s perfect shot. That challenge was what appealed to Londoner Stephen Swain when he set out to document quiet moments in the chaos of central London. ‘I love the vibrancy of London,’ he says. ‘I started off photographing anything and everything. Then after I’d been doing it for about a year, I began noticing themes: people smoking, couples, things like that.’
His shot ‘Give Me Shelter’ (above) captures a moment of affection and joy between friends on a hectic and drizzly Oxford Street. ‘That’s what you’re waiting for – the synchronicity,’ Swain explains. ‘It’s rare, but it does happen. When everything fits into place, it’s very rewarding.’
The photo, which caught two friends taking shelter from the rain, was a runner-up in the Love Your Friends category of photography competition Love in London in 2018. After a year off, the competition is back for 2020 and entries open this week. It’s a celebration of love, positivity and happiness in the city – and once again, the winning submissions will appear on billboards across the capital. It’s also raising money for Relate, with all entry fees going to the charity.
There are six categories, all celebrating love in the city. If you feel like your candid portraits of your cute dog are wasted on Instagram, there’s even a section for animal pictures. At last, your camera-hogging pooch could get the fame it deserves.
The competition closes on Mar 2 and entries cost £3, which will be donated to charity Relate. Find out more at www.loveinlondon.org.uk
In the mood for love? You can eat adorable pink dumplings in London this Valentine’s Day.