Powerful photographs document East Londoners

Wesley, local resident. Pic: Barbara Asboth

Shoreditch is known for its hipster image, but photographer Barbara Asboth believes that’s not all it has to offer.

Capturing over 80 intimate portraits of Tower Hamlets people in her new book, Faces of Shoreditch, it encapsulates the areas cultural identity. Produced by Amberley publishing and launched this month, the book displays the essence of one of her favourite districts.

Asboth said: “I used to visit Shoreditch quite often, that is where lots of interesting people are. It has an image of gentrification that hipsters are everywhere but that is not really the case.”

“If you delve it to it a bit further there are so many people and actually lots of problems. It’s this conflicting hipster image because of arising gentrification that you don’t hear about if you just visit once.”

Rebecca, make-up artist. Pic: Barbara Asboth

Completing a BA in Japanese in 2010 before going onto study for a Masters in Web design at Greenwich, Asboth’s diverse background has allowed her creativity and knowledge to produce innovative imagery. Photography soon became her occupation as she started capturing strangers and connecting with people through her pictures.

Her first notable project was 100 strangers in 2013; this took Barbara on a journey all over London and saw her master the art of street portraits. After two years she took her last photo in the series and in her own words, changed her life. This has only made the photographer more eager to tackle thought provoking and ambitious projects.

During her journey to document Shoreditch’s diversity she stopped many people on the street and also, through intimate research was able to find the most eccentric characters in the area and photograph them.

Asboth spoke of how she engaged with the community: “I connected with more people than I ever thought I could. I think I probably walked over 100 miles in the area in total.”

She continued: “There was two things I mostly wanted to get across in my images. As a photographer, naturally I want my work to be engaging and people to really feel they can understand the person they are looking at. I wanted as well to show people as they are; some of this community are young but importantly some are part of the older generation and have been here a long time. It’s about really showing this contrasting image.”

“I found out some of the community are so closely knit, the local businesses meet up together and regularly discuss the area holding events; it is inspiring.”

“Everyone’s story was incredible and I really appreciated understanding the culture of the area, this is at the core of the book,” she added.

Faces of Shoreditch is available to purchase through Amberley Publishing.

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