From the moment you exit Brixton tube station your senses are sent into overdrive. There is this wonderful hustle and bustle of an area so diverse. People rush past each other, play music, shout, preach, dance, talk on their phones, take selfies, go shopping, argue and love. People from a huge variety of backgrounds whizz past each other and they intermingle in this self-contained bubble of culture. Photographer Charlie Clift wanted to capture where he lives in his latest series, celebrating Brixton’s life, soul and spirit.
“It’s the characterful people of Brixton that I wanted to capture,” says Charlie. So he hit his home turf with a small team and brought the studio with him: a grey backdrop and a light on a stick. “I wanted to use the backdrop to pick out the individual, but I also made sure to leave the street around them as a frame within the picture to show their connection with Brixton.”
I know myself how difficult it can be to persuade someone you want to photograph to give up their time. People are suspicious when a stranger approaches them with a camera. “I tend to use what I see to make a connection,” adds Charlie. “Like the guitar they have just finished busking with, the brightly coloured tracksuit they are wearing or the bouquet of lilies they are carrying. A compliment can go a long way. Then of course, once they’ve said yes you have just a couple minutes to engage with that person to create a moment.
“I just throw myself into it and see what happens. This can sometimes lead to wonderful things occurring, for example on this shoot we ended up having a reggae dance-off with strangers in a phone shop.”
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