You can’t imagine Richard Bryant falling victim to Dr Johnson’s warning about being tired of life when you’re tired of London. The architectural photographer was commissioned by art book publisher Rizzoli to create a photographic essay on the capital, from Hampton Court in the west to the Queen Elizabeth Bridge in the east, and his interest in the city shines clear. It took two years and many hundreds of images of streetscapes, interiors and details to complete the book, and yet Bryant says that he still couldn’t capture something as huge and shifting as London. ‘I realised what I hadn’t done,’ is how he describes the book. The weighty tome features 180 images, many printed double gate-folded, meaning the companion exhibition a Somerset House features some very large images. All are 1m high, with some stretching 6m wide. This was made possible using special printing and mounting techniques, and the all-important digital camera. ‘It wouldn’t have happened without this,’ says Bryant. ‘The quality is as good as a large-format technical camera, plus they’re portable and convenient.’ Of course, there’s barely a person to be seen in Bryant’s architectural images, and yet his photographs evoke them everywhere – the workers, the visitors and the builders of this most teeming of cities.
Greater London: Richard Bryant’s Photographic Celebration of a City is at Somerset House, The Strand, London WC2 until 8 March 2009. London Deluxe, with photographs by Richard Bryant and words by Peter Ackroyd, is published by Rizzoli, priced £100
By Sarah Frater