A lot has changed in the London Underground over the last four decades. The last cigarette was smoked underground a long time ago and people have gone from reading newspapers to staring down on their phones and tablets. And all of these changes have been documented by one man.
London-born photographer Bob Mazzer has spent forty years photographing in London’s underground. His images are now being exhibited at the Howard Griffin Gallery in Shoreditch.
65-year-old Mazzer was born in East London to a Jewish couple and says he discovered photography at secondary school when he was 13 years old.
He decided to start photographing the underground because he was always fascinated by the London Underground. “My intention was to make the everyday amazing,” he told London Live. “I wasn’t out there to find incredible events, I was interested in the ordinary because even in the ordinary you can find the extraordinary.”
“You can be with a hundred people kind of anonymously and you can photograph them,” he says. “At the time this was a cool thing to do.”
Mazzer loves the multicultural, cosmopolitan and tolerant side of London and this shows in his pictures. He has captured moments of intimacy in a place most people don’t feel like being intimate.
“In those days there was no surveillance, bombs, no paranoia about photographing children,” Mazzer reflects on how it was when he started. “I had a little un-intrusive black camera, which allowed me to take as many pictures I liked, of whom and of what I liked.”
To most people, the London Underground is a place where you stand uncomfortably near a stranger. Where shoving and silent swearing are commonplace. But Mazzer describes it as a “huge happening where hundreds of thousands of people are gathered and where the different characters interact with each other in a perfect harmony.”
When he was out and about with his camera, he made many friends and managed to snap the moments strangers were thrown together.
“I like the fact that you can sit down on a seat next to someone you don’t know, and when you both stand up - you have become friends.”