Self portrait - Andrew Leo - stood outside in Es2

Local photographer Andrew Leo and the Postcode Project

We talk to local photographer Andrew Leo about the Postcode Project, his foray into a less commercial and more personal project, borne out of a love for his local area. Shooting moody, documentary style street photography of the people of his local Roman Road and Globe Town, photographer Andrew Leo captures a feel for the real Eastenders.

“Michael, the manager at Zee and Co clothes shop – it’s been around for 27 years.”

 

Far from the growing pockets of gentrification, East London and its old guard are still very much here. They’re selling fresh fish at the far end of Roman Road, sinking pints in the pub or pulling punches in the boxing club. Like Leo, you only need know where to look, to find them.

“Globe Town Social Club, we got bought drinks all night in here.”

 

“When I lived in Islington, I felt like no one from Islington lived there anymore. I was a banker surrounded by other bankers. That’s why I ended up moving to Bow. I love the people around here,” says Leo.

 

Investment banking at Meryl Lynch at the time, he needed an outlet for his creativity, and so he began photographing his friends’ bands for fun. “I had a friend who’d studied photography and she pushed it with me – she started to explain about framing and how to take a straight picture – really standard stuff I didn’t even know,” he says of his rudimentary photography training.

 

Then came an interest in lomography cameras. Leo quit his job at Meryl Lynch. “I hated banking enough and loved photography enough to know I’d made the right decision,” says Leo of his choice to begin at the very bottom again, assisting at photography studios in 2006. His first paid photographic jobs were in the fashion world – creating commercial campaigns for the likes of Austin Reed.

 

“The first time I saw my photos blown up on a big billboard in Oxford Circus, that felt like a big achievement for me,” says Leo. One job begets another and so he has continued to work both on the commercial side, while also balancing his work with personal projects like his documentary style shots of the people of Bow.

“This is Panyi of D+G Autos, he’s been there nearly 40 years now, servicing the Black Taxis all lined up out the back. The other guys at Market Square reckon they’ve yet to see him not covered in grease.”

 

“After working as a banker, I try and not work at things I hate,” he says of his need to strike a balance in his professional life. The Postcode Project came out of a need to photograph something personal. “I thought a lot about going away, documenting my travels, something like that – but one day, it just hit me – everything I was interested in photographing, all those extraordinary people, were on my doorstep.”

 

Having lived on Globe Road for 12 years, Leo realised it was his local patch of London ground and its tight community of people that was so inspiring. “Everyone here looks out for each other,” he says. “There’s such a good history and the real people of Roman Road have stayed here.” Photographing the old boys and the new faces of the area is what the Postcode Project is about – a visual log of the steadfast Roman Road lot.

Two men on roman road market black and white photography
Roman Road Market

See more Andrew Leo street photography

Life, laughter and liquor on Roman Road

Colourful characters of Roman Road

  1. hazel hunter

    Love your work Andrew, lovely to know we still have ‘ characters’ amongst us. Life would be tepid without them.Wish I was lving in roman road! Thankyou for sharing your people and for your imagination.x

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