In every corner of the world there are people who are faced with having to define their identity in order to fit in or adapt to a certain environment (whether social, economic, cultural or political). This is a concept that determines our position or situation within society. While some have the natural gift of inventing themselves, most struggle to find the identity traits that best define them.
Born in South Carolina (United States) to a Spanish mother and an American father, I have always been attracted to the subject of identity, and this is probably why I chose to become a photographer. My profession forces me to question whether the very nature of photographic work modifies our perception of reality. When we capture an image or transmit a story, is it not a reflection of our own cultural perspective?
On another level, some cities debate similarly about their own cultural identity, sometimes to the extent of inventing it. Qatar is a good example. It’s a country I visited recently and it made me wonder whether the spirit of a place can be built from an initial vision. Can you really define a city’s identity from a state of mind?
Communication and image agencies look for this kind of emotional connection as a starting point. They build corporate identities through the use of images, colours and styles seeking to convey the value of a company, what it believes in and why it exists. Finally, it is this emotional connection that creates a brand, an identity.
Based on this reasoning, I was delighted to accept Skyscanner’s invitation through Blueroom (which now represents VisitLondon) to visit London, a city with a strong identity that these companies help to forge.
When we visualize the city of London, most of us feel something very precise, an emotion based on our personal experiences and on the photos or films we have seen. Despite the fact that more than 100 languages are spoken in this capital city and an infinite number of religions, rules and ideologies coexist, London, in its unusual essence, is still definitely London.
During the journey, I felt the urge to explore this identity in unexpected things. Would I be able to capture the London spirit through the typically unusual? Determined to find out, I decided to enjoy a sunny weekend in October by touring two neighbourhoods not found on typical tourist maps: Bethnal Green and Stratford. These images reflect some of the situations that caught my attention and were a gift to my eyes.
Coautor: Carlota Nelson