50 Photographs of Hackney by Simon Mooney

We've had an office in the north London part of Hackney for five years now and I spend a lot of time walking its streets. I almost always carry a camera and have taken thousands of pictures of the people and places I see. The built environment has always fascinated me and I'm fortunate that others in the borough have organised themselves to promote conservation and encourage the study of its history.

One such group is The Hackney Society which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year and is publishing a book - Hackney: Portrait of a Community 1996-2017 - to mark the occasion. They kindly asked me to put together an exhibition of photographs that could help promote it so I decided to choose these 50 of my personal favourites.


The Hackney Half Marathon by Simon Mooney

The banner hung on a fence in the local park caught my eye: 'Hackney Festival of Fitness'.

I love taking pictures of people running around London, it appeals to both the sports and the street photographer in me. This event was sponsored by Virgin Sport - which I hadn't heard of before - and based on the Hackney Half marathon.

Flora asked me to shoot the London one a few years ago and trying to get around that route was a real problem. I learned from the experience and, for this one, maximised my shooting time by staying close to the start/finish line on Hackney Marshes.

On the day, I set off at 7am to walk the four miles to the location through the streets of north London, hoping to get pictures of runners on their way. After only ten minutes, I got two quick frames of a runner warming up through the railings of a Stoke Newington churchyard. It felt like a good start.

Once I arrived, hi-visibilty official photographers were everywhere so I wandered around and tried to take up positions that would give me a different perspective.

I mainly used a 600mm lens which allowed me to really pick out individuals from the field of thousands. The light was very special at times (which is half the job) and this, together with the atmosphere, made it a good day for pictures.

A Cross to Bear by Simon Mooney

I've been working on the new website and portfolio just lately and didn't think I'd taken too many street pictures so far this year. Now that I've checked, I haven't completely wasted my time carrying a camera between Huddersfield and London and around the capital on buses, tube trains and pavements. I seem to be developing a thing for dapper old gentlemen and wish I'd been braver with the boxer on the bus.

Beckham on the Beach by Simon Mooney

Nine years ago this weekend I went to Brazil to photograph David Beckham at a football academy press launch on the beach. The night before the job, he drove out to see the location and I went along with my cameras.

The light had just about gone by the time we arrived but we managed ten minutes with a football. I reluctantly used flash which got hit by a stray shot after a few minutes and broke.

I showed a few of the best frames to David and his team at the launch and they agreed to release some along with the official pictures. They got quite a bit of press coverage as the England squad was announced the next day.

A short video of the action:


Halloween in Hackney by Simon Mooney

I set off down Stoke Newington High Street about 10pm and walked through Dalton and Shoreditch before turning around on Brick Lane in the early hours. The man with the white beak seemed to be following me around which was a bit of a concern but turned out to be quite handy as it took me three goes to get him in focus.

Roller Dogs by Simon Mooney

Things that caught my eye in London over the last few weeks.

Perfection Fish Bar by Simon Mooney

I’m tidying up the archive and found some fairly recent London street pictures. I don’t remember taking quite a few of them but the usual subjects are covered and a lot of it’s wonky so they must be mine.

Slow-Shutter Terminus by Simon Mooney

The train down to London on Saturday had those rare sliding windows in the doors. I noticed this as we approached King’s Cross and took a few slow-shutter pictures out into the night. We passed industrial buildings, homes, offices, trees, trains, the Arsenal stadium and the last few East Coast Main Line stations.

Lady Glitter by Simon Mooney

The pavements are suddenly busy now I’m back in London. Bicycles weave in and out and dogs run in packs as well as on their own.

Most of these pictures were shot over the last couple of weeks on Kingsland Road between the City and Stoke Newington. There’s a few from Clissold Park and some on the south bank of the Thames. What felt like one very long walk from Spitalfields to Soho is also featured.

Caution Wet Floor by Simon Mooney

Pictures from my travels towards the end of 2015, through London, West Yorkshire and the United Arab Emirates.

The bleeding man eventually sat up and was flown away in a helicopter ambulance (I have no idea how he was injured). The prostrate boy in the bagel shop looked like he was messing about but you never know.

Warming-Up in the Desert by Simon Mooney

On Friday I photographed a friend’s wedding in Dubai on the shores of the Persian Gulf. The day after, the celebrations were to continue in an executive box at the Emirates Rugby Sevens tournament just outside the city and they kindly invited me along.

Being neither much of a rugby fan, or particularly sociable when it comes to corporate hospitality, I applied for a photographers pass before leaving the UK and packed my 600mm as well as my suncream with the intention of watching the action through the lens pitchside.

The wedding day was a long one and my phone pedometer reckoned I’d walked 13 miles. Much of this was desperately trying to find angles where the two video cameramen weren’t in shot. I eventually got to bed at 3am on the Saturday morning and my alarm went off almost immediately four and half hours later.

The photo pass for the rugby now seemed like a very bad idea but I was committed so off I went.

As soon as I got into the stadium and dropped my bags behind the goals I was hemmed in by the Canadian team which had just come out for the warm-up. The players were enormous, intense and impressive in the light and heat and a different proposition to the footballers I’m used to seeing at such close quarters. Over the next few hours, I mostly had my back to the match action and concentrated instead on the details of the other teams’ preparations for the short, sharp 14 minute games coming thick and fast.

I also snapped the occasional cross-dressing or twin-hatted fan as they caught my eye.

The Richmond Cup by Simon Mooney

We’re updating the grassroots pictures in our advertising portfolio and, as part of the project, I spent a recent Sunday at the launch of The Richmond Cup in south west London.

My priority was to get strong match action but I also kept an eye on what was happening off the pitch. The light was good and the football was competitive and entertaining.



The People's Pool by Simon Mooney

Back in June I was asked to photograph a site visit to east London’s Haggerston Baths. An architect friend wanted pictures for a proposal to Hackney Council on the future of the building.

The baths were closed by the local authority in 2000, after almost a century of public service and it has now invited ‘expressions of interest’ to develop the site. My friend’s group is proposing a community-based alternative to the predictable commercial schemes.

We spent an hour on a guided tour of the place and I used the time to take these pictures. Years of neglect have left obvious damage which some visitors have sadly made worse.

How does such a historic public resource become redundant and fall into such a miserable state? What would the people who designed, built and enjoyed Haggerston Baths think?

Hackney Gazette – Haggerston Baths on the Market

West End Wheels by Simon Mooney

I was asked to look at shooting stills on the set of a television commercial with cars. On advertising jobs I’m usually in control of the production, but this would be different with me in the background with no influence and only limited opportunities. The director and crew would be running things and I’d need to get what I could and stay out of their way. A bit like working round a football pitch or in the dressing room.

The creative team had a particular director in mind with a certain way of lighting things. My job would be to get dynamic driving pictures so I wanted to rehearse shooting under similar conditions to demonstrate the potential and identify any problems.

I decided that night-time at Piccadilly Circus, in London’s West End, would be a good place to start. There’d be lots of expensive cars and the huge illuminated advertising screens would – to some degree – simulate the quality of light on set. I’d have no control over the traffic and there’s be lots of things in the way like street furniture and people. These are some of the results:

Chingford Boys by Simon Mooney


Back in February I got a call from The Sun newspaper: Did I have pictures of Tottenham Hotspur star Harry Kane with David Beckham from ten years ago?

I had no idea they’d met, but it seemed Harry was one of the kids from David’s old school in Chingford that attended his football academy launch in March 2005. We were official photographers for the project and covered the event so I had a trawl through the archive.

The Sun wanted a traditional ‘head-on’ shot of the two of them to camera and, funnily enough, Harry had been one of the two kids stood either side of the England captain in the team photo for the press pack. On the day i was trying to get different angles to everyone else so all my pictures of this were from the sides and even the back. I did spot Sun photographer Dickie Pelham in one of the latter so gave him a ring and suggested he might already have the shot, which he did.

Even though I didn’t have the picture the paper wanted, I did have quite a few frames that would have been exclusive given the free access I had on the day. Here’s a few of them:

Bride with a Beard by Simon Mooney

I've been working on a film for the last couple of months and haven't been thinking about photographs much. Now it's finished and I'm tidying up hard drives, I've been going through the street pictures I shot while travelling around. The usual subjects are represented: notable windows, pavement dogs, typography, city light, striking individuals and public transport.