British Photographer Nick Turpin Captures London Commuters ‘On the Night Bus’
While many people dread their commute, one photographer was inspired to make it last forever (in a good way, of course).
With a camera in hand, Nick Turpin hid in the darkness at London’s Elephant and Castle rotary over a two-year period, snapping intimate portraits of bus riders through steamed-up windows. Turpin follows the long tradition of street photographers being inspired by everyday life, and his photos of the commuters have an eerie, Rembrandt-like quality to them, setting them apart from other voyeuristic projects. The bus’ steamed windows create an optical illusion that softens the subjects behind the glass, a nod to the blurred boundary of public and private lives.
Now, Turpin’s collected works have been compiled into a single book from Hoxton Mini Press entitled On the Night Bus, which explores people in transit between two worlds: one filled with familiar faces of co-workers and family members; the other, with complete strangers. Turpin got his inspiration for the project by witnessing the mundane scene of coffee drinkers through a café’s window during the winter.
Take it from us: London is a pretty dreary place during the winter. And Turpin suffered through two years of miserable weather conditions while shooting his photo essay. In order to capture that fogged-up effect, Turpin would only go out if it had rained recently or the temperature had dropped close to freezing.
“There is something about people in transit; they are off guard, vulnerable, staring, thinking, glassy eyed,” Turpin said in an interview with Huck magazine. He continued:
“I felt I was seeing people in a private moment but in a public place. It is a rare situation to candidly observe a stranger so intimately, but the glass window and the dark night facilitated these close glimpses into another person’s day.”
Given London’s cosmopolitan nature and the diverse makeup of its Elephant and Castle neighborhood, On the Night Bus represents a unique cross section of a modern society. Preview some of the images below.
On the Night Bus is available for purchase here.