London People I
In the mid 1960s I had an assignment from Holiday Magazine to shoot people of Paris. It worked out fine. I got eight pages, and that was that.
So I got the idea to do it in London. One of the reasons was that I was impressed with the many faces that obviously were not English: Moroccan, Nigerian, Asian, etc. But as I got into the assignment I realized that most of my images were of the English.
To me, they were exotic as anyone else. I find the English wonderfully eccentric, colorful, individualistic, and wholly without subterfuge. They are what they are. They’ve been this way forever and they wouldn’t think of changing. It also helped that I almost speak the language.
Some time ago I tried to classify people’s reaction to being photographed.
For instance, the Italians pose, they are proud, they know they’re beautiful. The Japanese want to take your picture. The Germans want to know if you have permission, etc, etc.
I always thought of the English reaction: they look behind their back to see who you’re really photographing.
They’re not self-conscious nor did they show off, pose, mug for the camera or otherwise dilute what I was trying to do. It was a gas.