Bob Mazzer’s Street Photography
Axeman in Praed St
One day, on his way to work at “The Office” – the porn cinema in Paddington where he was a projectionist – Bob Mazzer met this mad axeman in the street who fortunately was more than happy to have his photo taken.
This picture may come as a surprise to those who only know the tube photography for which Bob has become celebrated, yet his distinctive vision of existence is equally evident in these compelling images of London street life. “I’ve never not done photography above ground,” Bob confessed to me,“If you are a photographer, then you can’t walk down the street without a camera … and the tube is an extension of the street.”
These pictures published here for the first time are from the years when Bob worked in two porn cinemas, at Paddington and latterly at King’s Cross, offering him ample opportunity to wander with his Leica M4, photographing on the streets by day and on the tube going home at night.
“I was obviously out and about a lot in the eighties,” he declared in delighted surprise, contemplating this diverse collection of images.
“I came round the corner into Cambridge Circus and this was happening – these men had climbed out of the coach and were moving the car out of the way – but I couldn’t hit the shutter before these people walked in the way and at first I was pissed off, but later I realised they make the photograph – they stand in for you, the viewer. Meanwhile, the man on the bench slept through it. The whole thing was bonkers really.”
“This was at the Notting Hill Carnival. In a quiet moment, here was this cameo of a little therapy session on the pavement edge.”
“I was waiting for a bus. Sometimes you have to pretend you are waiting for a bus to get the shot.”
“It all seems to be about eyes, people looking in different directions.”
“I was at the bus stop and she was standing on the other side of the concrete post, so I angled my camera at waist level and ‘guestimated’ the shot. I love the colour range and her outfit – it was so ‘Hey everybody look at these.’”
“At St Martin in the Fields, a destitute bloke with nowhere to go and I felt for him.”
“I was walking down Oxford St and the bus passed by. It was a split second and I didn’t have time to think about it.”
“I was on my way to work at the porn cinema in King’s Cross and I saw this artificial leg sticking out and I was preparing to photograph it when this scuffle suddenly happened.”
“This is outside Regent’s Park tube. Sid Vicious had only just died.”
“This was in Soho Sq. They look like they could be conjoined. I always think this is one of the strangest pictures I’ve ever taken. I crouched down and said, ‘I love how you look, please let me take your picture,’ and it was all over in a second.”
“In Soho Sq again. I thought it was a mad thing to do, to stand with a dog in a bag.”
“I used to go to Regent’s Park a lot.”
This was outside Wyndhams Theatre in Charing Cross Rd when ‘Once a Catholic’ was playing. It was shot from the hip, I wasn’t looking through the viewfinder. You have to be not there or they’d say, ‘What are you doing?’ I’m probably standing at right angles.”
“I’m speechless when I look at this. You couldn’t want to live there, but my dad did for a while in a block of flats very near.”
“I love black kids, and I love the way the hands and eyes are so friendly in this picture. If you’ve got the right vibe, I find people tend to be friendly.”
Photographs copyright © Bob Mazzer
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