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London's dizzying diversity captured at the city's bus stops in a lovely project by Richard Hooker

There’s a pub I pass on my way to work called The Banker and Barrowboy, which I always felt was a quaint harking back to a previous time when the inhabitants of this great city rubbed along in much closer proximity than they do in the modern age. But Richard Hooker has found a place where even in the 21st Century, Londoners of all backgrounds mix freely – at the bus stop.

Richard spent four years photographing the city’s amazing diversity as seen at this particular time and place after spotting the potential for the project one afternoon in east London. He said: “I caught a quick glimpse of a wonderfully eclectic assembly of people – a mix London does so well. It all looked so natural, a perfectly unique group portrait. The group dynamic reminded me of old street scenes depicted in some of the paintings of the Italian Renaissance era.”

“The way people take ownership of the space is often better than anything an art director or photographer could ever deliberately replicate.”

Richard Hooker

From there Richard became determined to document this interesting socio-cultural phenomenon whenever and where he came across it. “The bus stop was more the framework which allowed people to congregate, each group completely different from the next. The way people take ownership of the space is often better than anything an art director or photographer could ever deliberately replicate.”

The ongoing series though was not without its challenges. “Not everyone likes their picture to be taken, and I tried to respect that. But in most instances I kept myself to myself on the other side of the street, and never dwelled in one place more than a few quick frames. Shooting on film meant I couldn’t afford to shoot a lot, and I made a point of trying to move on before I was noticed.

“More often than not it was the buses which worked against the project – I lost count of the number of times I’d be still struggling to get my camera out while a bus came along and whisked away all the subjects I had just stopped to photograph.”

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Richard Hooker: North End Way, Golders Green 

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Richard Hooker: Kingsland Road, Dalston 

He stopped taking the photographs in 2005 and has just published it in its entirety online. With that bit of perspective, what does he think it can tell us about this city and the people who live in it?

“Looking back it’s obvious now that London’s a city which changes at a staggering pace. A lot of the shop fronts, hoardings and back drops from many of the earlier images have all changed, especially in Hackney, Dalston, and the East End. Fashion has changed too.

“But the thing I guess I notice most, is that the people and the moments themselves change much less. London is a city full of people consistently fresh in their diversity, and consistently open and human too.”

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Richard Hooker: East London Mosque, Whitechapel Rd

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Richard Hooker: Hackney Road

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Richard Hooker: Threadneedle Street, City of London

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Richard Hooker: London Bridge 

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Richard Hooker: Kingsland Road, Dalston Junction 

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Richard Hooker: Altab Ali Park, Whitechapel Road 

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Richard Hooker: Threadneedle Street 

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Richard Hooker: Balls Pond Road, Canonbury 

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