Londonist Behind The Lens: Mark Spokes

A series celebrating the talent of our friends in the Londonist Flickr pool. This week, Mark Spokes on becoming obsessed with photographing London.

“I first developed an interest in photography as a teenager on a family holiday to Canada, where I would take photos of anything and everything. I then went to University where I studied computing and was lucky enough to base pretty much my entire final year around photography. It wasn’t until a year after I graduated, however, that I bought my first DSLR (Canon 40D). It took a further 6 months or so for me to start shooting London regularly…

I’ll be honest, I never used to ‘get’ London. Living just outside of the M25 I used to regard it as only sirens and missing stars, full of grey, lifeless buildings where everything was overpriced. That all changed in early 2011. I started to visit London on almost a weekly basis (I was seeing someone living in London at the time) and the more I explored, the more I took in everything London had to offer — from the world famous landmarks, to the back streets and all points in between. Naturally I took my camera everywhere I went. At first I was snapping away, taking shots of anything I found. Then I gradually settled down and started planning shots, mapping out routes to take to encompass as many locations I wanted to shoot as possible and even using Streetview to work out angles and vantage points — I’d become obsessed!

The combination of planning and the more I used my camera meant that I was getting visibly better shots compared to when I first visited London. I started re-shooting locations that I’d visited before and getting completely different results. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve shot the Houses of Parliament and Millennium Bridge, but every time I do I realise that there are new angles, new compositions that I haven’t seen before, and end up with shots completely different to what I’ve previously achieved – despite shooting the same subject.

The vast majority of my body of work is shot along the river, predominately on the Southbank. I still consider myself somewhat of a tourist due to not actually living in London and so the landmarks London has to offer still intrigue me. My ultimate goal is to provide views of these sights that haven’t been seen before. It’s somewhat of an tall order as some sights have been photographed in pretty much every way imaginable (Big Ben for example). But striving for such a view keeps me wanting to go back and take more…”

See more of Mark’s work at Mark-Spokes.com

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  • Philip

    What a fantastic young photographer, when I first came to London many moons ago I shared the same misapprehensions of it as a dirty, grey metropolis, how wrong I was. In every photograph your capturing of the light is particularly beautiful. I believe you would enjoy experimenting with the gritttier/edgier/artier areas (but not after dark and not on your own) the contrast between the old and the new lends itself to a fascinating composition in the right light.

    • Mark

      Thank you very much for you kind words Phillip (you too Sarah!), i’m glad my initial thoughts about the city where proven to be completely wrong – it’s such a beautiful City!

  • Sarah

    Came across this page by chance, really like the pictures!

  • Gina

    Hi Mark I just found this! Try the emirates sky carts over greenwich and east! It will inspire you to shoot a whole new London with the city airport the factories and the river activities, id love to see what you come out with with new inspiration if your shots are this beautiful with the old favourites you shoot! And its really fun it feels like flying! You’re such a great photographer and I’d think that even if I didn’t know you forever! Toodles! Gina x