Then and now: Hackney revisited

Then and now, before and after, call it what you will, but the web is full of composite pictures that show how an area has changed by placing photographs taken many years apart side by side.

Indeed we have used the technique on this site and the wire agencies now regularly go back to the scene of a news event to shoot matching pictures for anniversary coverage.

It's not always straight photographs either, this series of satellite images from Japan following the tsunami is a powerful way to convey the scale of disaster.

It's a technique that we can all use. Alex Pink stumbled upon a book of photographs of Hackney in the mid-1980s by Berris Conolly and thought it would provide a focus for his own work, and after some thought set about re-shooting the same scenes. Now, the 1980s may not seem that long ago but as the frames here show it's far enough back for changes within society to register in the landscape.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Northwold Road, Hackney, 1985 by Berris Conolly
Image copyright Other
Image caption Northwold Road, Hackney, 2011 by Alex Pink

I asked Alex to elaborate on his work:

"I came across Berris' book by chance and was instantly taken by it. Although the desire to update the images came naturally, it's a daunting task to recapture another photographers work. In the end it was my girlfriend who persuaded me to pursue the project and contact Berris."

It turned out that Berris no longer lived in London, but they did make contact and so the project began with email being the main form of communication between them.

Berris said that they both felt that "confining our communications to email would maintain a neutral balance and help us to stay focused on the projects fundamentals."

He went on to add that: "Sometimes I dream about returning to London to re-photograph all the sites, but it's no longer close to home. The idea of a changing view from a fixed point made me think it could be interesting for a local photographer to update them."

It would seem to be the right choice. Alex is the perfect fit as he spends much of his time on his scooter looking for new locations to add to his own website, Snapshot London.

He is one of a growing band of committed photographers who are now recording their local environment. Their aim is to create a visual resource and one that focuses on the urban landscape rather than the people within it.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Boleyn Road, 1987, by Berris Conolly
Image copyright Other
Image caption Boleyn Road, 2011, by Alex Pink

Alex said: "I think it's fair to say that I have always been more interested in taking pictures of man made things over actual people themselves. I was living in Hackney at the time, now in Walthamstow, so not too far away.

"Buildings make a city in the same way that nature makes the countryside. I have long been fascinated by the urban landscape and how it affects our everyday lives.

"I spend hours riding around on my bike documenting the streets. I find a lot of inspiration in my surroundings and that gives me the motivation to continue to take pictures. I hope that in another 20 years someone else will update this unique collection one stage further."

This project is a lesson to us all. Record the space around you for we just don't notice the small changes that occur each day. Yes there's a huge dollop of nostalgia in there, but when curated and placed within a framework it provides a fascinating glimpse into our lives.

You can see more of the work on their website, Hackney Revisited, and the work will be on show at Chat's Palace in September.

If you are involved in a photographic project recording your local community then do get in touch by using the comment form below or email me,