Down the Tube

I think it was in 1979 that I first met Paul Baldesare. We had both joined a group set up by the then curator of photographs at the Museum of London, Michael Seaborne called London Documentary Photographers. It was not officially a group from the Museum, but held its meetings there and organised a couple of shows on the premises before moving to hold them elsewhere.

There were around 30 photographers who attended that meeting, and most of us brought at least some examples of our work to show the others. Several people stood out for the quality of their work, and one was Baldesare, who showed pictures from a project he was still making of travellers on the London Underground.

These pictures were all unposed, generally taken without the subjects noticing the man sitting in the seat opposite or just down the carriage with a camera – I think usually a Nikon with the pentaprism removed so he could look down and frame the image on the top of the camera body. Fortunately tube trains are usually noisy enough to drown the rather loud shutter sound.

Soon after the group decided to produce a show on the theme of Transport, which Baldesare’s pictures fitted perfectly. I didn’t have any current work that fitted, and having seen his work on the tube, decided to try my hand at some similar work on London’s Buses. You can see some of the work I produced in an earlier post, On the Buses Again.

Some of Baldesare’s work is now also available from Café  Royal Books, which has just published his ‘Down the Tube Travellers on the London Underground 1987–1990‘, available like my Notting Hill volume for just £6.  You can save on shipping by ordering the two – and other volumes – at the same time. Another recent volume by a photographer I  know that I’d highly recommend is Paul Trevor — India Road.  I’ve long been of the opinion that Trevor was the most interesting British photographer to emerge in the 1970 – bar none.

You can see more of Baldesare’s work on his own web site. Click on ‘Portfolio’ and scroll down the page to find three black and white projects,  his tube pictures, and two others which are due to also come out on CRB, Victoria Coach Station and A Local Event, pictures from carnivals and village fairs in the Surrey Hills.

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