Photographs │ Capturing the high street

I like exploring the high streets. Even though large national and international chains may dominate the scene, each high street still retains something of its own distinctiveness. At the same time, I am unobservant about changes, and sometimes I know that there is a new shop, but I cannot for the life of me remember what shop used to be there before. Shops come and go, businesses succeed and fail, and obituaries have been penned a number of times for the high street, squeezed by the huge shopping centres in the middle of nowhere and online retail. Yet, at least in many parts of London — which may be exceptions — high streets are surviving, and even thriving. Another discovery has been the number of businesses on the high street: when I started to count, I realized how often I have blithely walked past, and I have been surprised how many shops there are, and by the sheer variety of products and services on offer.

The photographs in this section are not meant to be a door-to-door reconstruction or survey of the high streets, as sometimes I miss a whole swathe of places, and at other times I take photographs on one side of the street, but rather they are a collection of snapshots or portraits, a scrapbook if you will, which hopefully conveys something of the high street.