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34 candid photos of London life from Chris JL

Chris has been photographing Londoners at play for decades. Below, he shares the moments he's captured and what he's learned

Urban cowboy

Urban cowboy

‘I grew up in many places, mostly "old Europe,” and spent a big part of my adult life on the other side of the pond. I’m a foreigner, and I’ve been one always and everywhere, but London is the place that I’ve chosen to call home. I live in the centre of town, where social strata, ethnicities, and nationalities mix.’

Flower glower

Flower glower

‘I walk a lot. I shoot people. I shoot unposed – candid – images. Simple things. For the ones that like labels, a big part of what I shoot is street photography. For me, it is just photography, and photography is just a part of my life – like eating, drinking, and sleeping.’

Lads lads lads

Lads lads lads

‘The truth is that I'm a compulsive photographer. Some people keep a journal, other write stories or draw sketches – the camera is simply my sketchbook, personal journal, and way of telling stories.’

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Seeing double

Seeing double

‘I used to do quite a bit of commercial photography, but nowadays I do something else for a living (that I love), hence I only shoot for myself or for a good cause.’

Nothing really mattress

Nothing really mattress

’At the age of five, I was very disappointed to discover that I would not be allowed to bring my inseparable camera with me on my first day of school. But I was stubborn, so the following compromise was reached: I would bring my camera up to the school gate, where I would be allowed to take a snap of myself in front of the school (that was a day worth remembering, I thought), and I would then willingly relinquish my camera for the rest of the school day.’

One last drag

One last drag

‘Thirty seven years after, only two things haven’t changed in my life: I’m still in school (I’m a scientist), and I still carry a camera everywhere.’

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Dreams of a crowd

Dreams of a crowd

’I let a lot of time pass between shooting and editing. When shooting I’m typically in the image, often both physically and emotionally. There is very little detachment at that stage, and often even an emotional link, and that tends to blur the editing (aka mostly ditching) judgement. Time alleviates that: if I still like a picture that I forgot taking, there might be something worth in it.’

Faceplant

Faceplant

Light and shade

Light and shade

‘Shoreditch is home, by choice, and I love it. The familiarity - living there - is an important element to be able to shoot in the streets the type of images I’m after.’

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Six legs

Six legs

‘For me, a successful photo is a good story well told. Or even better, the right hints to let the viewer imagine a good story well told.’

Thinking caps on

Thinking caps on

‘The rest is just maniacal control of the image (frame, exposure, balance etc. - even of its 'randomness’), and typically a truckload of luck — if there are two shots that I “kind of” like in a year, I call that plenty.’

Walk on by

Walk on by

‘The capture of a street image is for me an almost automatic process. It happens in a split second, the outcome of an almost involuntary physical reaction – that’s how I’ve seen the world (but not how the world was) in that moment, raw and unfiltered.’

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I'll pass

I'll pass

‘A photographer that I deeply respect once told me that my street work typically depicts some sort of “public intimacy,” in the sense that the pictures tend to capture intimate moments that happen to occur in public. I think he’s right, but on a different level: these pictures are probably my very own public intimacy.’

Lean on me

Lean on me

‘The camera is a mean to an end. I mingle with the flow, so ideally the gear should be sufficiently unobtrusive for both me and the others. But at the same time, I won’t hide in the bushes and shoot from afar, hence I tend to shoot with very short lenses.’

Smoking area

Smoking area

‘If you shoot with a long focal lens on the street, there are tons of visual elements that will immediately give away that the picture was taken from afar. There is only one way to depict closeness in a street shot: get close.’

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Tuck in

Tuck in

Most of the representations of the world we live in — of ourselves as a “species" — are just a product, and respond to strict product requirements. It's disturbing, and, actually, dangerous.

Last tube

Last tube

‘Street photography is instead, by its own nature, un-normalised and anarchic – or at least, that’s how I like it to be. In a sense, it’s the world in your face.’

All red everything

All red everything

‘Like any other form of representation, a street photograph is a lie by default – a four dimensional world projected into a confined 2D space cannot be otherwise. Nevertheless, a street photo is one of the most sincere lies that can be told.’

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Watching the royals

Watching the royals

‘For the last decade, in a typical year I spend time (mostly for work) in between one or two dozen major cities of the world, but only in a handful I can really take pictures - in the other ones, sometimes after years, I still have too much the eye of a tourist.’

Dancing on my own

Dancing on my own

Hold on, we're going home

Hold on, we're going home

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Texting, squid

Texting, squid

The Man Who Knew Too Much

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Dead Dolls Club

Dead Dolls Club

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The Metropolitan Police

The Metropolitan Police

Brolly break

Brolly break

Squad goals

Squad goals

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Stuck in the middle with you

Stuck in the middle with you

Windowlicker

Windowlicker

Blinding

Blinding

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Please, no pictures

Please, no pictures

Homeward bound

Homeward bound

Window seat

Window seat

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Keep on keeping on

Keep on keeping on

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