London Identities

On this day, I travelled across London to capture the diversity of people I am surrounded by. It was raining and cold but nonetheless I had to create my first amateur photography project. I may look back at this (hopefully I will) and think to myself “wow, you have come a long way in photography”, but it is also a memory for the people who I kindly dragged outside to do me this massive favour.

In the forthcoming photos, I wanted to represent identity through the environment and fashion. The people in the photos are each completely different from one another to showcase today’s multi ethnic society. As I write, Donald Trump is ignorantly calling African nations, Haiti and El Salvador ‘shitholes’. If that isn’t enough to highlight a world of degrading people’s identities, I don’t know what is.

Elizabete Kaufmane. Latvian.

Liz converted from Catholicism to Islam from the age of 8. In a family of many siblings, she is lively and energetic but also easy going. Liz is fearless and always willing to try new things which is probably why were friends. She can be crazy at times: during exam season in year 12, she snorted caffeine and has a record of 9 coffee shots in one drink, she says she has “lost count”. I guess I can’t say she’s on a natural high every day, but even when she isn’t drinking excessive amounts of coffee, she’s equally as crazy.

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How does your fashion impact you and how is it influenced by your surrounding?

“I wear bright colours to represent my bubbly, open character. In a society where religion is being stigmatised by the media, it allows me to challenge those views and lift Islam like a shining star”

Liz’s favourite colour is yellow. It spreads positivity and hope even in the greyest of days reflecting her personality. The photos were taken in London Central Mosque to reflect her comfort and intimacy within her faith, yet her fashion radiates her trademark liveliness.

 

Selin Sahinoglu. Turkish Cypriot.

Selin and I have been friends for over 10 years and she hasn’t changed the slightest. She will always be a kid at heart even though she has serious aspirations in medicine. I can proudly say she taught me to ice skate from about Year 9 but she herself has been skating from a young age.

Selin is book smart but really, she’s hella dopey. However, she is an incredible human being and listener, I pour my heart out to her and vice versa. One of the most thoughtful things she ever did was when she made turkey instead of chicken only because I don’t eat chicken. But… it was terribly dry and unseasoned, and she didn’t have gravy (I hope that cook book helps you improve :))

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How does your fashion impact you and how is it influenced by your surrounding?

“as a person, I give many objects sentimental value, as I’m quite nostalgic- this is also reflected in my clothes.”

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We have completely different interests and senses of fashion that we clash when it comes to shopping, but somehow, we uphold a pretty long friendship.

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Samia Begum. Bengali.

Samia is the small but mighty boss you don’t want to mess with. At 5ft something she is prone to misconception. We always debate about the most unserious and serious of subjects which bring out both of our political sides. Samia is Bengali but has comfortably assimilated in her surrounding London culture. She holds a strong voice which she wants to pursue through becoming a lawyer.

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How does your fashion impact you and how is it influenced by your surrounding?

“My clothes represent my character as I wear bright colours and neutral colours, it’s a mesh of my tomboyish personality as well as the more vibrant lively side of me”

Samia’s photos were taken in Brick Lane, Shoreditch as there is a large Asian community yet also a growing younger wave of modern Londoners which equally reflect Samia. She does often describe herself as “plain Jane” through her clothes but her personality is far from it. She doesn’t hold back and is an extremely hard worker. Her wild side hasn’t fully been unleashed but we are constantly reminded by the full blow she is going to have.

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Burcin Kartal. Kurdish.

One of the funniest people I know is Burcin. She may come across as a serious candidate, but on a one to one level, she is the most unserious wild child. As the oldest sibling, she is selfless and extremely caring. She isn’t the most daring of people which I like to abuse by forcing her to go on the ‘scariest’ rides. As an individual, she knows herself best and listens to her instincts. Over the years it has been clear how much she has matured… not much, she still snaps me on the toilet and burps in my face- thanks x

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How does your fashion impact you and how is it influenced by your surrounding?

“I love the street culture of London especially the Camden markets. I also love Carnaby because its full of life but cute at the same time. I feel my clothes reflect my interests as a young person living in London, who loves to explore but wants to stay comfortable and stylish in relation to the environment”.

The photos were taken in an alley on Carnaby St in front of a wall of street art. Burcin works in an artisan coffee shop and “not shitty Starbucks” as she says, influencing her views on London culture and shaping her identity in London.

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Katy Young. Chinese and Vietnamese.

Katy and I met in Graphics in about year 8 and I remember one of our first conversations concerning the fact that she was going to get braces but really didn’t want them. She’s my full-time model for everything and has a lot going for her in the future. Her creativity is unmistakeable, and hype street wear is never out of your face. I guess you can say Katy has the full package, she’s book smart, talented and creative, but she can be super dopey which makes us all laugh. Its for sure that she has some Filipino bloodline because no Chinese person is as tanned as Katy. She is incredibly honest and my right-hand man at college whenever I’m in a crisis. She is the most independent and self-reliant person I know which really motivates you to get up and go to the gym or something other.

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How does your fashion impact you and how is it influenced by your surrounding?

“I am inspired by London streetwear and social media like Instagram, I use this as a platform to express myself and my style also. I want to show that I am still in touch with my cultural roots even though my fashion choices may not make that apparent, apart from gold jewellery.”

In these photos, we were contemporising Katy’s Chinese background by fusing it with her street style. The locations were authentic and highly representative of her identity.

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Thank you to everyone who took part in this and helped create something which I really enjoyed making and writing.

Betul

-all photos taken on Canon 6d Mark ii-