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.


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:

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.