I moved to South West London from my family home in Scotland in my early 20s, almost 30 years ago. I’m not 100% sure why I ended up here but I suppose, similar to many who move to a big city, I was influenced by my friends who were also moving to the capital at that time. They were all getting started on proper careers while I was drifting around, a little uncertain about what to do with my life. My future wife who was at university with me, also moved to the area at the same time and while all our friends have slowly moved away, we’ve stayed here and it’s been a great place to raise our kids.
The south west of London, which includes areas such as Tooting, Wandsworth, Earlsfield, and Mitcham, is mostly made up of semi-suburban neighborhoods, many of which have never been fashionable and I suspect never will be. They are just areas that are generally overlooked and as a photographer, I’m always drawn to the neglected places.
About 15 years ago I began what would turn out to be a huge rambling never-ending photo series based on my travels around the district that I titled Southwestern. Many of the early images were shot in the late evening and into the night, mostly because having young children and doing a lot of commercial photography during the day, there wasn’t much time to do personal projects.
As the work developed I began to make more pictures around my family life, particularly during the day. So often I’d drop one of the kids at the train station and then I’d hang around to photograph the commuting life or take a different drive to the supermarket, looking for places I hadn’t seen. As the series developed I also began to do walks on Sunday afternoons looking for quiet moments that I felt represented southwest London – empty cafes, quiet play parks, and tired shop fronts, Now that the book is published I’ve become more aware that a good number of the images are a reflection of what I saw when I first moved here. I’d come straight from living at home, very rural life in the central Highlands of Scotland, to urban life in one of the world’s biggest, busiest cities. I suspect no matter how long I live here, those early days will continue to influence the photos I take here.