The overwhelming sense of voyeurism and the desire to document reality are two factors that drive the London-based photographer THE LONDON VAGABOND. His main rule is the keeping silence inherent in the observer photographer. The heroes of the TLV shots behave naturally, keep the context of the place and the atmosphere they were party: whether it is a closed Queer event or a simple friends meeting. The work of TLV causes the most ambiguous reaction: it can either attract the viewer, prompting him to dream up and put himself in the photographer’s place, or, conversely, push him away and cause a feeling of disgust.
Thanks to the support of the PAPERWORK NYC, the TLV archives were published in “FOOLS MONEY” zine. According to the photographer, he dedicated zine to the passed away friend he once worked with. We asked the photographer to tell us about London fetish scene, dirty cases from his life, attitude to creating photos and the story of “FOOLS MONEY” girl.
As much as I hate the internet it has become a very useful tool in terms of sourcing people to photograph, especially within the younger generations. I find a lot of interesting people through Instagram, or when I am out at certain events I always make sure to network! I love to find faces that aren’t overexposed on the internet so whenever I see someone incredible in the street or club I don’t hesitate to approach. London does have some amazing events where you are just surrounded by inspiring people especially within queer culture and the fetish scene, I guess I am lucky to have been exposed to some of that but I feel I am still just at the tip of the iceberg.
I have always been a people watcher and somewhat obsessed with the human condition. I have always leaned towards documenting what is around me during certain points of my life. Being a photographer that has voyeuristic tendencies compliments the person I am, I’m not a loud or an obnoxious person that wants attention, I’m more chilled out, I want someone to totally relax in front of my lens as if I was never even there.
The most important thing for me is individuality! I get messages every so often from people asking me how I shoot the way that I do because they want to do the same thing that I am! That makes no sense to me, don’t you want to produce something totally different to mine that will blow me out of the water? I get asked what equipment I use a lot and I think people assume that I work with expensive equipment. I work with whatever I can get my hands on, most my cameras have cost me less than £30 pound, I have never used a light meter in my life and I break and lose my cameras all the time, so it’s not the equipment that you use that is important, but it’s the final image.
I don’t take my work too seriously and I hope that comes across in my images. They sometimes shock, repulse, break boundaries, confuse and educate… But they are just my photos, I couldn’t care less if people love or hate them, I do them for myself and if people appreciate them then great. If they hate them maybe that is more satisfying…
I am quite a sexual person and have been extremely lucky to be surrounded by a lot of sex positive and body positive people. I shoot a lot of semi-nude and full nude stuff these days and in all honesty I adore the female form, I am a slave to it but when I am taking photos I am submitting to that and that alone. I don’t find photographing someone naked sexual at all, I never did even when I first started, it is very normal to be naked and my focus is making sure that the person is totally comfortable shooting in that way as you have to remember this is all about consent. I know there are people out there that are turned on by the images I produce but on the other hand there are people that will be repulsed.
The zine was titled “Fools Money” after a girl I had worked with named Holly who unfortunately passed away. Fools Money was the name of her Instagram account which was full of her personality, featuring provocative photos of her in the brothel that she worked in, videos of her playing pranks on the other girls that worked there as well as videos with her more submissive clients (mostly her abusing them/beating them up!) When I work with someone it isn’t just work, I like to build a friendship and become someone that is trusted, it is quite an intimate role to take on. When I first met with Holly we spent the whole time talking and laughing and barely taking any photos and before I knew it her first client arrived for the day and I had to leave.
I dedicated this zine to Holly and the pseudonym of Fools Money because it is the only way that I can thank her for believing in my work, supporting me while in prison and more importantly for allowing me into her life for the short time I knew her.
To be totally honest there was no real concept for this zine, I just wanted to produce something that Holly would have loved to of owned more than anything else. I wanted the zine to have no real concept just to be a mismatch of photos from my archive that only complimented each other on their troublesome nature whether that be sexual or otherwise.
There is an image in the zine where there were two blood soaked tampons on a bedside table. I like to photograph menstrual blood as it is still something that is quite taboo and has been surrounded with controversy even though it is one of the most natural processes the female body goes through. This wasn’t the reason this image was taken! This image serves as a personal reminder of when I served a particular London Mistress and the time she forced two of her blood soaked tampons into my mouth and forced me to suck them clean. It is something I will never forget but this image reinforces what happened that day…
I am working on the sequel to my first publication Rats In The Walls which is in the final stages! Volume 1 was a bit of an accident, so volume 2 has been absolutely crazy due to the fact it has had a clear direction. I’m also working on a collaborative video with my partner which is in some ways a ‘behind the scenes’ film, as well as a lot of video portraits created by her.
There is so much in the pipeline at the moment, I am working with an amazing painter named Sam Jackson and we have started creating works for a joint exhibition which will be in London next year.
I would like to say a big thank you to PAPERWORK NYC for giving me the opportunity to publish with them! When I first started publishing my photos online they were the first publisher that I came across that I felt had the same ethos, they have worked with some incredible artists and I am proud to be one of them! I look forward to what they have coming up in the future…