Although now based in Windsor, Stephen Burridge grew up an honorary Londoner, with both his parents hailing from the capital and Stephen’s father working in the city as a black cab driver for Hackney Carriage. When he joined his dad on the job, Stephen recalls “watching the people on the street, but obviously for both of us, for very different reasons.” Explaining that this is where he found his “love of the street,” Stephen pays homage to this adoration in his series Homegrown, a collection of street portraits.
“I use candid observation and wit to convey the urban and suburban culture of London and the surrounding areas,” Stephen says, adding that he’s drawn to “the margins of our capital” in committing to his desire to find an authentic photographic voice as well as showing dedication to representing “the cultural diversity seen on those streets”.
The recurring concept through Stephen’s series is that of margins, a socio-political documentation of those left on the edges of capitalism, left at the mercy of gentrification. Focusing on suburban London and the UK’s coastal regions, Stephen captures romantic but semi-brutal scenes, uncovering the charm and paying tribute to what he calls “a dying class.”
Through his lens, Stephen conveys a strong mood of honesty and sympathy, without becoming patronising. He tells us how “the nuances and character traits of the youth and the elderly in these areas is deep-rooted in my family,” going on to say, “My parents were born and raised in working-class communities in London” and they “entrenched a strong proletariat ethos in me”. This sentiment bleeds through the celluloid of every image he makes.
In an exercise of “exploration, appreciation, inclusion and an intrinsic admiration of people and their communities,” Stephen also demonstrates intuitive technical sensibilities. With his Mamiya 7ii at his side, he explains the construction of his portraits begins with “shading the images with natural light and a subtle mix of flash”. In doing so, he crafts an animated colour palette made up from the diverse assortment of characters and social scenes documented through his “wry lens”. Stephen explains that he will forever shoot on film, because “as soon as I was introduced to the process of developing and printing, that was it,” adding that “the allure of the darkroom and the smell of the chemicals was all very intoxicating.”
Looking ahead, Stephen looks to further pursue fashion projects whilst continuing with his social documentation, hoping to balance the two sides of his practice. “I will continue to dig out humanity’s better side and do away with the bourgeoisie’s looming lifeless facade,” he says.
Stephen Burridge: Homegrown (Copyright © Stephen Burridge, 2020)
About the Author
Hailing from the West Midlands, and having originally joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in March 2020, Harry is a freelance writer and designer – running his own independent practice, as well as being one-half of the Studio Ground Floor.