Here at Orbzii, we’re firm believers that nobody knows a city like its locals. And that’s especially true of Alan Schaller, who has not only lived in, but photographed London’s most intimate corners for most of his career. Which is why we nabbed him for a quick ten minute catch up to see London through a photographer’s lens.
Alan Schaller is a London based photographer who specialises in black and white photography. His work is often abstract and incorporates elements of surrealism, geometry, high contrast and the realities and diversities of human life.
Publications who have featured his work include The Guardian, The New York Times T Magazine, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, South China Morning Post, Time Out and The Independent. Alan regularly has exhibitions, showing recently at the Saatchi Gallery, The Leica Galleries in London, Boston, Washington D.C., Shanghai, The Edit Space in Milan, and galleries all over Asia.
(All images courtesy of Alan Schaller)
1) What is it you like most about your home city?
I have always lived either on the outskirts of London or as I do now in the heart of it. It’s a hugely varied city in terms of architecture, culture, and ethnicity which is great for a photographer in my genre of street photography. For years London was infamous for its food, but it is now arguably the best place in the world for going out and dining, and a long day shooting makes me hungry!
2) How has London influenced your work?
London is a place that truly has four seasons. As nice as it would be to live in LA, they always have sun out there, which I would probably get tired of quickly, speaking in a photographic sense. London is beautiful in the rain, in the sun shine, and especially when it snows. My work makes use of architecture and light, and London is like a huge playground for me to explore. The rate of economic growth in the city means areas are constantly being developed and new buildings and neighbourhoods are springing up all the time. It never feels like a shame to return home after a work trip abroad. It’s an inspiring, bustling place to live and be creative.
3) Favourite spots to take photographs?
Street photography is often associated with concrete jungle vistas. London has plenty of those that I love to shoot, including the Southbank, Soho, Mayfair, Brick Lane, Chelsea and Oxford Street. But London has more to offer than just built up areas. I have recently done a lot of work in Richmond Park, and enjoy walking by the Thames from Tower Bridge up to Westminster. There is so much to see on that walk in particular. Hyde Park, Bushy Park, St James’ Park. One of my favourite set routes is to go from Soho, down to Piccadilly Circus, along to Green Park station, down through the park to St James’ and along to Sloane Square from there. I’m usually a little tired by then so I go home!
The place that I will always return to time and time again is the London Underground. My first ever series, which is ongoing, is called “Life On The Underground”. The platforms are like a conveyor belt for new subjects, and you really get a wonderful variety of people. Depending on which station you pick, you can access so much interesting design and shapes to work with. Some are outdoors, some are dark and atmospheric, some haven’t been changed much since the 50s in terms of typography and tiling which is fun to shoot with, getting a somewhat timeless photo if you are lucky.
4) What’s your best kept London secret?
Getting a G&T at The Connaught Bar in Mayfair made by Agostino Perrone. If you find yourself there, say hi from me!
5) What’s next for you?
I have a bunch of projects and gallery shows lined up, including some trips to Mexico, Cuba and India. I’ve been dreaming of getting back on the road, and can’t wait to travel again.