Colin O’Brien, Photographer Of London Life
Can you spot Colin O’Brien, the photographer of LONDON LIFE, popping up behind his mother with Leica in hand while she was trying on hats in a department store on Oxford St in the nineteen-fifties? Colin’s mother looks puzzled yet patient while he takes the second picture. I wonder if she ever imagined where it would all lead?
Looking at the photographs of Colin aged seven with his Box Brownie and as a teenager with his first Leica, his destiny as a photographer might seem obvious to us. But I do not think Colin realised then that the affectionate snaps he took of the childhood world he knew growing up in Clerkenwell at the edge of the City of London, post-war, would become such a compelling photographic testimony in retrospect.
Today it is my pleasure to publish this gallery of rare images of Colin in front of the lens, taken by family and friends, illustrating the growth of the young photographer to maturity.
Yesterday, I announced the publication of LONDON LIFE in June, compiling more than two hundred of Colin’s photographs from 1948 until the present day into a handsome hardback photographic monograph tracing the everyday lives of Londoners through seven decades. As with our other titles, I need to gather a group of readers who are willing to invest £1000 each. Please drop me a line at Spitalfieldslife@gmail.com if you would like to help bring this exciting project to fruition and I will send you further information.
Additionally, you can support publication by pre-ordering LONDON LIFE from the Spitalfields Life Online Bookshop and we will send you a signed copy in June with a complimentary copy of Colin’s previous book, TRAVELLERS’ CHILDREN IN LONDON FIELDS as a gesture of appreciation.
Colin’s parents on their wedding day in 1938, taken on the steps of Victoria Dwellings in the Clerkenwell Rd where Colin grew up
Colin marches in the Clerkenwell Italian procession in the early forties
Colin with his first camera, a Box Brownie
Colin photographed by Solly, a local Photographer in Exmouth Market
Colin’s parents with their young son the roof of Victoria Dwellings, Clerkenwell
Colin is Head Boy at Sir John Cass School, Aldgate
Colin with his first Leica
Colin on the roof of Victoria Dwellings with St James Clerkenwell in the background
A self-portrait, skylarking with pals at the Kardomah Cafe, Oxford St
Colin looking sharp in the sixties
Colin looking with-it in the seventies
Colin at his photography show on Waterloo Station
The Gentle Author’s portrait of Colin O’Brien on the balcony of the flat in Michael Cliffe House, Clerkenwell, which Colin moved into with his parents when it was newly-built in 1966.
If you would like to help me publish LONDON LIFE, a monograph of Colin O’Brien’s photographs from 1948 until the present day, please drop me a line at Spitalfieldslife@gmail.com