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Although it doesn't happen very often, you'll occasionally come across a photographer whose images are more striking, more honest, and altogether more important than the work of a lot of better known artists. At least this is how I felt after stumbling upon the back catalogue of Kieron Cummings, aka The London Vagabond, a man who's been pointing his lens at the scenes most others don't bother with, or don't dare to shoot.
I got in touch with Kieron to ask him about his photos.
Where are you from and what do you do?
I grew up in London and its still where I have my base, but I am always all over the UK. When I am in London my mind is always drifting off elsewhere. I float about the country taking photos of the characters I meet and see in the street amongst other things.
What do you shoot on?
I mainly shoot on a bunch of different old SLRs that I picked up from charity shops. I am always buying new ones and trying them out to see what fits best. I also carry a 35mm point and shoot all the time too.
How did you get into photography?
I was always interested in photography as a kid but never had the money for a camera. When I finally did get my hands on one I was using it to document the graffiti I was doing at the time. Gradually it evolved into me documenting the places I was going with the people I was hanging out with. Then it evolved even further, and I started documenting all the people and the things I would see.
What's the appeal of 35mm for you?
Originally I used to think 35mm was pointless and a waste of time. Why would you limit yourself to 24-36 shots when you can get a digital SLR and shoot thousands of photos? I ended up losing my DSLR to police and that's when I was like, "Damn! I still need to be able to take photos!" I had a few dusty old SLR's that I had collected from charity shops so I started using them and I haven't looked back. I wouldn't switch back to digital at all.
I think that 35mm suits my style; the grittyness, the grain. The film absorbs my subjects.
Can you talk us through your favourite shot?
I don't really have any favourite shots. The people I meet are more important than the photos I produce. All my favourite photos are the ones I have seen in my head and I either wasn't quick enough to shoot, or I was told to fuck off.
What's your approach to photographing strangers in the street?
I shoot both candid stuff with no permission and then intimate close up portraits with the subject's permission. It all depends on the situation and who the person is. I prefer my close up portraits due to the stories behind a lot of the characters.
A lot of your photos feature nightlife, drunk people and policemen. Has anyone ever kicked off because you've taken a photo of them?
I've had a few altercations due to me or my friends taking photos. I've had police talk down to me saying I can't do it but I don't listen to a single word they have to say. I always swing it back on them and say they are using CCTV to do the same thing. I have had abuse shouted at me, I have witnessed friends get punched and I've got into a number of altercations.
The scariest was when I was in Birmingham photographing two heroin addicts sorting out their gear and injecting, when one just suddenly decided to switch on us while still holding a needle. I just had to get out of there quickly.
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