Extreme close-ups of old-school Londoners

Extreme close-ups of old-school Londoners

In Your Face — Shot at a distance of just 12 inches, Paul Trevor’s seminal series contrasted City of London high-rollers with people in a neighbouring street market. Now, they’re being exhibited for the first time in almost 25 years.

According to photographer Paul Trevor, the idea for In Your Face – his seminal series of spontaneous close-ups on the streets of London – was the result of two things.

First and foremost, he was looking to tackle Britain’s polarised social climate, an environment fostered by the iron grip of Thatcherism. Secondly, however, he was responding to a personal, technical challenge: his long-term neglect of the 50-mm lens.

“Why not try to tackle the issue using only that lens?” he says, remembering his decision to embark on the project almost 40 years ago. “Grabbing photos in the street from a distance of 12 inches demanded a new picture-making approach.”

“It meant working at lightning speed – a camera loaded with fast film, set at a high shutter speed, and pre-focused at 12 inches. Good daylight was necessary. Years of experience as a street photographer was a big advantage!”

The resulting photos, taken between 1977 and 1992, contrast City of London workers (bankers, executives, high-rollers) with those in the neighbouring street market of Brick Lane. And now, they’re being exhibited for the first time in almost 25 years at the Martin Parr Foundation.

Tightly-cropped and extremely close-up, the images of In Your Face hone in on the juxtaposing locations without revealing too much. Shot during a time of scrutinised debate (the promotion of market values at the expense of community ones), they take on a whole new significance when it comes to addressing today’s inequality. 

“Since the photos were principally shot during the Thatcher years they inevitably speaks of that time. But it’s up to others to say how well the work as a whole represents the period. I’m pleased the work is being re-visited and re-assessed after all these years.”

“I wasn’t selective. I’d photograph anybody and everybody who came my way.”

In Your Face is showing from 26 September – 22 December, 2018 at the Martin Parr Foundation

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