BOOK OF THE MONTH

30.01.2017

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Is there such a thing as a typical Londoner? Or does the character of the British metropolis in fact stem from its rich diversity? As an American who has lived in London for the past thirty years, photographer Peter Zelewski was intrigued to find out more. The results of his long-term project have now been published in his first photo book, People of London. The volume encompasses 100 portraits selected from the extensive archive Zelewski had built up over the past five years: men, women, children; people of the most diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, of all ages and from all walks of life. His single portraits are frequently interspersed with images of twins, and accompanied by the subjects’ brief personal statements.
Zelewski’s approach stands in delightful contrast to the street-style photography that has become so popular in recent years. To begin with, the subjects’ direct gaze immediately opens up a captivating visual dialogue. Yet Zelewski did not merely seek out good-looking or unusual people, but endeavoured to capture the unique character of each person he portrayed with his Leica. It also quickly becomes apparent that the background of these portraits has not been left to chance: the vanishing point is always in the central axis of the image, with narrow alleys and deserted streets emphasising the composition. The powerful single images finally add up to a vivid impression of urban complexity. Even after the selection process, however, the photographer still cannot pinpoint what makes a true Londoner: “London is far too complex and diverse to be summed up in a single book. This is a portrait of the city I love, a documentation of my journey through what I feel is the greatest place in the world with all of its people. These are people who caught my eye on the street, who shared their stories and who ultimately make me proud to say ‘I’m a Londoner’.”
People of London is a celebration of one of the world’s most dynamic cities. In times of increasing political division and social intolerance, along with the UK’s impactful decision to leave the EU, a volume capturing the confident, open-minded and vibrant spirit of a diverse society is perhaps all the more significant. Ulrich Rüter


Peter Zelewski
People of London
160 pages, 100 colour photographs
16,0 x 22,8 cm, English
Hoxton Mini Press
Silvana
Francis
Jean
Nyaueth

Peter Zelewski was born in Detroit in 1964. He studied at the London College of Communication (LCC) and has lived and worked in London for the past thirty years, dividing his time between commercial photography and self-initiated portrait projects. His fascination with the people of London led to the award-winning series People of Soho and Beautiful Strangers (featured in LFI 5.2015). He was also among the recipients of the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2015.

peterzelewskiphotography.com

Peter Zelewski
People of London
160 pages, 100 colour photographs
16,0 x 22,8 cm, English
Hoxton Mini Press
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