Rotherhithe Photographs

One of the more intriguing features to appear in the British Journal of Photography for a while was on Geoff Howard‘s Rotherhithe Photographs.

You can buy the book and see a preview (including the first 9 photographs taken in Rotherhithe pubs) on Blurb, where it states :

Images from “Rotherhithe Photographs” were first published in the legendary “Creative Camera” magazine in 1975, when the project ran as a cover and major portfolio, described as “a report from someone who is unquestionably one of the major talents among British photographers”.

Unseen for many years, the photographs are a personal documentation of the south London docklands, a cut-off, self-sufficient, largely working-class society; seen between the closure of the docks which had been the area’s raison d’etre, and the consumerist redevelopment of the later Thatcher years.

I don’t remember seeing his work when it was first printed in Creative Camera, though by then I was a subscriber, and the issue will be somewhere hidden under piles of papers in the shelves behind me.

Some of the more interesting images were taken inside working-class pubs in the area using a Leica, but abandoning the available light approach – because there just wasn’t any that film could capture, Howard used a big flash, moved into the right place and took a single image. Rather similar to the way that a few years later, Martin Parr started to do with a bigger camera and colour film. But Howard needed to get to know his subjects so he could get away with working like this.

Howard’s work has a particular interest for me because I was also photographing Rotherhithe – along with other areas of London – at around the same time.  You can see some of my pictures on the site ‘London’s Industrial Heritage‘.

© Peter Marshall
Rotherhithe – ©  1982, Peter Marshall

My work in Rotherhithe was more varied than the site suggests, but did mainly concentrate on the urban landscape. The better pictures on my site are probably from other riverside areas of London, such as Wapping, Southwark and Greenwich.

© Peter Marshall
Greenwich, © 1983, Peter Marshall

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