London's 'Tube Mapper' Photographer Turns His Attention To Trams

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 10 months ago

Last Updated 05 June 2023

London's 'Tube Mapper' Photographer Turns His Attention To Trams

Adore trams? Also read our Ode To The London Trams.

A green tram at night with Therapia Lane on it - hurtling off - its lights blurred
The dream shot, now reality. Image © Tube Mapper

Luke Agbaimoni — aka Tube Mapper — works fast.

A few days after chatting with me about about a dream shot he wants to get of a tram departing Croydon's Church Street stop, using long exposure, he's already taken it and emailed it to me.

A tram whizzes past a man in a hood stood at a platform
Image © Tube Mapper

Over the past few years, Agbaimoni has been wowing us with his artful images of tube trains. He's published a beautiful tome about the symmetry of the London Underground. He's photographed gymnasts defying gravity on tube poles. And now, he's finally got around to the trams.  "It's something that was always on my list," he tells me. After all, as he points out, his aim is to cover everything on the tube map, and the trams are part of it.

Agbaimoni couldn't have had a better mentor to get him 'tram ready'. In February 2023, he made a video with Geoff Marshall, in which the pair gambolled between tram stops like a couple of excited school boys. While Geoff leaked his trademark trivia left, right and centre, Agbaimoni was delighting in the unique opportunities the trams offer for a photoshoot: "You could do all the stops quite quickly," he says, "The tram network is surprisingly quite efficient. Sometimes you have a tram go and by the time you catch your breath, another one's come in."

A tram at dusk, reflected in a big puddle
Image © Tube Mapper

The unique way in which trams pass through the city has its special benefits for a photographer like Agbaimoni, too: "Because it's not a rail line you can do most angles — you can stand behind it, but you can also cross in front and behind. If, let's say you wanted to get a view of it on one side as it came in, and let's say it goes off to the right — you can then cross over the track quite quickly, and then take pictures..." says Agbaimoni — speaking with a brio in which you can sense his photographer's brain ticking over in real time.

And if there's a shot worth getting, he's prepared to wait for it. He mentions a spot on Waddon New Road, where it's possible to catch the phenomenon of a tram on the elevated section of line, and a bus driving underneath it: "It'd have to be a 'fishing day,'" muses Agbaimoni "where literally all I'm doing is waiting for the shot."

A Wimbledon-bound lime green tram at a platform, reflected in a puddle
Image © Tube Mapper

He also describes the 'friendliness' of trams, which —like buses — are driven manually in order to respond to the unpredictability of the streetscapes they glide through. (A couple of weeks back, my three-year-old nephew was delighted when a driver rang their bell and waved at him as the tram went by — talk about the personal touch.)

And how about the most useful thing he learned from his field trip with a London transport know-it-all? "The most interesting thing I learned that day from Geoff was the difference between a cemetery and graveyard — which is one's attached to a church. It's stuck in my head."

A tram passing under a Victorian station
Woodside is one of Agbaimoni's favourite spots to snaps trams.

As for Agbaimoni's preferred place to snap trams? Church Street and George Street in central Croydon are right up there, as is Woodside, where there's an old Victorian train station bridging the track. "There is a shot to be taken there that I don't have yet," says Agbaimoni, "In my head I have hundreds of shots that I don't have but they will happen. They're kind of happening in my head."

Knowing Agbaimoni, it'll be in our inbox by next week.

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