A Portrait of Hackney

‘To try and make sense of the place seems futile’, says photographer Zed Nelson of Hackney, the area in which he grew up and still lives today.

A Portrait of Hackney cover
A Portrait of Hackney cover

Indeed, it’s a place that rarely makes much sense. At once renowned for crime and derided for beard-sporting hipster pretension, in 2014 it’s become a fascinating and glorious site of oddities, beauty and, in places decay.

It’s these idiosyncrasies that are captured so wonderfully in Nelson’s new book, A Portrait of Hackney.

A Portrait of Hackney
A Portrait of Hackney

The sweet little tome presents a fittingly disjointed narrative of the east London borough, through images of its streets, parks and people, interspersed with hilarious overheard snippets of conversation.

‘He’s a bit of a wanker but I’ve got a horrible feeling he’s the future. I’m meeting him on Monday’, reads one, cribbed from Broadway Market.

A Portrait of Hackney
A Portrait of Hackney

The book is designed by Friederike Huber, who worked with Martin Usbourne of publisher Hoxton Mini Press and Bread Collective, which has created the branding for the East London Photo Stories series which the book forms part of.

The images are set on a simple white backdrop without captions, adding to their charm. The subjects are anonymous, and leafing through the pages feels almost like strolling through the streets of Hackney themselves: we see the stylish people, the crumbling steps, the tragedies and the East End characters.

A Portrait of Hackney
A Portrait of Hackney

Hoxton Mini Press says, ‘A Portrait of Hackney is an honest photo essay about the confusion, clash of cultures and the beauty and ugliness that co-exist in the area today.’

A Portrait of Hackney by Zed Nelson, is out now published by Hoxton Mini Press, priced £12.95. Visit www.hoxtonminipress.com for more information.

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