Humans of London

Posted by Tyson Jopson on 17 December 2013

London is a beautiful, mad mess of humanity. These are some of the people I met, talked to, and photographed while I was there on assignment for Getaway magazine.

10 days in London. You can do so many things. When you leave, and realise what you haven’t done, it will feel as if you’ve done so little. I spent 10 days there in September writing a feature for the January issue of Getaway magazine (you can get it here). For everything I did, it  felt as if there were 100 things I didn’t do – I didn’t make it to the West End to watch a play, I didn’t see the Changing of the Guard, I never even went inside The Tower of London. It’s a city that could easily take a lifetime to explore, and by the time you’ve done that, it will have changed so much you’ll have to start all over again. But what you will find, from the moment you arrive, is people. All kinds of people. From all corners of the world. These are some of the humans I met, talked to, and photographed along the way.

humans of london, south bank, london, tyson jopson

London measures its heartbeat by the amount of Tweets sent in a day. This guy was so engrossed in his phone, he didn’t even notice me taking his picture.

humans of london, london dungeon, halloween, london, tyson jopson

Despite it being two days before Halloween, The London Dungeon was quiet. This lady beckoned in anyone with half a head turned. I went in.

humans of london, antiques dealer, camden, camden passage antiques market, london, tyson jopson

At the Camden Passage Antiques Market, the vendors are as cloistered as their dusty brass. This was the only one who would let me take his photograph.

humans of london, bmx, bicycle, south bank, london, tyson jopson

I found a spot on the concrete sidewalk on the South Bank of The Thames. I waited for something to happen. This guy happened.

humans of london, vinyl, rough trade record store, brick lane, drays lane, london, tyson jopson

In search of new books and old vinyl on Brick Lane.

humans of london, busker, liverpool street, london, tyson jopson

Busking for business is a tough life in the capital city. A few minutes after taking this shot, this man was ushered away by a policewoman.

humans of london, runner, sunset, camden town, london, tyson jopson

On days when there was sun (very few), sunset over the city was the best time to be about. This woman took it as an opportunity to stretch her legs along the locks around Camden.

humans of london, youngsters, alternative, camden town, london, tyson jopson

‘Ah to be young!’ I thought. Oh wait, I am. I spent a few minutes hanging out with these guys after taking their photo just outside Camden Lock Market.

humans of london, art, tate modern, london, tyson jopson

I’ve always wondered if art is better digested alone or in company. I waited for this room in the Tate Modern, London’s largest post-modern art gallery, to clear so that I could capture it in isolation. I love this shot.

humans of london, tate modern, art, people, london, tyson jopson

But then this happened – a couple sharing perspective. It was strangely romantic.

humans of london, gordon ramsay, david degiovanni, union street cafe, southwark, london, tyson jopson

It was all kitchen non-confidential as I was allowed ‘backstage’ at Gordon Ramsay’s Union Street Restaurant in Southwark to chat to, and photograph, head chef Davide Degiovanni.

humans of london, street performer, covent garden, children, london, tyson jopson

In Covent Garden, the street performers live solely on tips. I caught this pic of a kid trying (really hard) to take ‘a fiver’ from him.

humans of london, the birds, hyde park, london, tyson jopson

This picture, taken in Hyde Park, instantly reminded of Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds. I’m still not sure what the man in the background was doing, but if it was stalking, he was doing a terrible job.

humans of london, bread, baked goods, greenwich market, london, tyson jopson

I met some of the friendliest people in Greenwich. Here, a girl selling bread at Greenwich Market, let me take her picture.

humans of london, red telephone box, greenwich, tyson jopson

‘Speak to my agent’ said this guy jokingly as I snapped him hurrying past one of London’s iconic red telephone boxes in Greenwich. Looking at it now, he kind of looks like he could be famous. A stumpy Marlon Brando, maybe.

humans of london, the kiss, tower bridge, london, tyson jopson

This has got to be my favourite shot. I was doing some long exposures of Tower Bridge, missing my girlfriend back home, when I saw a couple kissing a few metres to my left. Hesitantly, I asked them if they wouldn’t mind kissing a few steps to the right. It turned out it was a South African couple on their anniversary. I sent them this image as a gift.

humans of london, lola's, confectionary, spitalfields market, tyson jopson

I caught these two vendors having a small debate behind the counter of their confectionary wagon at the Spitalfields Market in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. One of them (you can guess which one) had misplaced the money box.

humans of london, mexican, food, camden lock market, london, tyson jopson

Food vendors are a dime a dozen at the Camden Lock Market and competition is fierce. This guy was shaving pounds of his taco prices almost every minute. I eventually bought a pot of noodles from the stall next door for £1. Sorry buddy.

humans of london, trocadero, piccadilly circus, london, tyson jopson

Forget Harrods or Cool Britannia, The Trocadero in Piccadilly Circus is where you’ll smash a bargain on any souvenirs. These two just wanted to be famous.

humans of london, charles darwin, evolution, natural history museum, london, tyson jopson

I love little moments like these: Charles Darwin looks down in despair as this modern-day ‘genius’ descends the stairs at the Natural History Museum in Kensington, glued to her phone. She made it down safely. I kinda wished she hadn’t (I hope that doesn’t make me a bad person).

humans of london, victoria and albert museum, kensington, london, tyson jopson

London’s museums are littered with people, and they’re not just tourists. Locals and students spend hours there. This girl had been inside the Victoria & Albert museum for an entire morning, sketching a bust.

humans of london, rollerblading, hyde park, london, tyson jopson

Once the hunting ground of King Henry VIII, Hyde Park today lends itself to less brutal disciplines, like rollerblading. Aside from nailing the slalom, this girl was also pretty good at dodging stray dogs.

humans of london, art dealer, greenwich market

Greenwich Market was by far my favourite market in London. Perhaps it was just a quiet day that I was there, but it has a sort of calmness to it that comes through in this image of an art vendor biding his time between customers.

humans of london, monmouth coffee, borough market, london, tyson jopson

Like New Yorkers, every Londoner will tell you where to find the best coffee in the city. I snapped this image of one of the baristas at Monmouth Coffee near Borough Market. I’d heard it was, you guessed it, ‘the best coffee shop in London’.

humans of london, squirrels, st james's park

Squirrels welcome anyone who wanders through St James’s Park. I spent a few hours in the park waiting to capture the perfect moment (and wondering why the spelt St James’s with an apostrophe and two esses).

humans of london, liverpool street, pigeon, the tube, london, tyson jopson

In London, if you wait long enough something odd WILL happen in front of you. It’s what I love most about the city, or any big city really. I spent two hours inside Liverpool Street Station photographing people alight The Tube, when this happened: man and pigeon waiting for the same train.

humans of london, selfie, tyson jopson

The inevitable selfie. After roaming the streets of Greenwich with my camera under an umbrella I found an old-school barber shop and caught myself in one of its mirrors.


You can find the full story of London – its people, past, present and future in the January issue of Getaway magazine, on shelves now.

Getaway magazine, January 2014

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