Paul Scane's obsession with photographing London came in 2005, when he walked into Aperture Photographic on Bloomsbury's Museum Street. "It was not long after I had begun to consider taking up photography," says Scane, "and I had no real intention of making a purchase, but a few minutes inside was all it took — I walked out with a Leica M6 and a 35mm lens."
With his trusty Leica in hand — and later a Hasselblad 6x6, a Mamiya 6x7 and a Linhof 4x5 for good measure — Scane traversed the London streets, keeping a keen eye out for the unanticipated happenings this city is full of.
"For me, possibly the main pleasure of photography is searching and discovering an image unexpectedly," says Scane, who has compiled quite the archive of oddball pictures in his 17 years on the job.
The photographer's flaneuring around the city has now led to a book, London Unseen — an urban miscellany that skips carefree from drag queens necking Beck's outside pubs to commuters deep in their phones to resplendently awful golden-lidded toilets in Mayfair bathroom showrooms.
The book's almost dizzying in its array of subjects, but a recurring theme of London Unseen are the signs and graffiti which made Scane pause in his tracks, perhaps scratch his head or let out a chuckle, before snapping them.
Here is a parallel London, in which Batman will do your root canal, or you can enter through the Gate of Heaven off a busy road near Mile End.
In this game, though, you have to be quick: "There have been times in the past when I've spotted something and not had the right camera, or the time," says Scane, "and when going back a few days later they had gone."
Such is the ruthlessly ephemeral nature of a city, in which wry street art is scrubbed out, and quirkily named businesses go to the wall.
We remember going past the Mirror Shop near Westcombe Park a number of times, and now that it's gone, regret never hopping off the bus, and having a snoop at its reflective wares. Is Scane ever tempted in by a sign? "If the premises are open, yes I'll take a look. St Paul's Church, Bow Common (Gates of Heaven) has an interesting interior and I did take a couple of nice shots."
Among favourite signs that he's snapped is the now-closed Sellfridges [sic], a white goods company that can lay claim to the best London pun of all time. "There are plenty that bought a wry smile to my face. Humour is important," says Scane.
"I think London does have its own sense of humour, but so do some individual areas, like Shoreditch, for example, which is where the majority of street-art and graffiti is."
Like many other intrepid photographers out there, Scane is doing the Lord's work — capturing a metropolis that moves almost too quickly to keep up with, and documenting all the silly little throwaway things that amuse or confuse us as we scuttle about the city.