Luke Agbaimoni — the man behind the Tube Mapper project — tells us about his second book, London Underground Symmetry and Imperfections.
I've always enjoyed artistic photography of cityscapes and sunsets, but I realised that I would have less time to capture these images after my first child was born.
I generally always have my camera with me so I had already captured a few images on the London Underground. So I devised a plan to take photographs on my way to work and on my journey home. I'm a patient person, so I knew that I could slowly build a collection of strong visual images this way without taking too much of my free time. This is how the Tube Mapper Project began.
Buildings by their very nature are balanced structures. This means there are many chances to capture symmetrical views inside them. The London Underground architecture dates from the 1860s to now, so there is great joy in exploring the varying styles and historic references that you encounter with the many passenger tunnels, platforms and staircases.
I usually give myself 30 minutes to assess if a photo is possible. If I am really excited about a composition I will happily wait a couple of hours. It's very fitting that I live in London as I get very excited when it rains. I'm a puddle hunter. Puddles transform a scene, inviting the opportunity to create a unique composition of a familiar scene. I especially enjoy capturing reflections of the city lights in the late evening.
TfL instructs architects, designers and spatial capacity planners to help to control the 'customer flow to and from trains'. This 'flow' is not only useful when predicting the movement of commuters traveling through stations, but also means that people are encouraged to repeat similar movements.
So visually if you're lucky, you can capture passengers mirroring each other.
Watching commuters navigate the London Underground, I've always been fascinated by their interaction with the architecture. I love how the leading lines of a tunnel can enhance the presence of a lone commuter walking down the middle of a pathway. I wanted to explore this concept so I enlisted dancers and gymnasts, people with great control of their form and balance, to help me explore the shapes of the London Underground. The locations chosen were generally outside/under stations where you can see the strong lines and curves of the buildings.
The Elizabeth line has fully opened all 41 stations, increasing my photography challenge to capture moments at all stations on the tube map. The architecture of some of these new stations are very different to their underground counterparts. I would describe them as vast, elegant and understated.
Each moment of symmetry in the book is quite special to me. This collection of images has been curated from seven years of images. If I were to choose one image to represent the book, it would be the narrow tiled hallway at Goodge Street. This is because the image is undeniably taken on the London Underground, however what excites me is that many people wouldn't recognise the location.
London Underground Symmetry and Imperfections, by Luke Agbaimoni, published by History Press
All images © Luke Agbaimoni
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