London Traffic Warden Portraits – Am I losing the plot?
This project has polarized a lot of my friends, who have questioned why I’m spending time chasing traffic wardens round London on my motorcycle. It’s been a little bit of an eye opener in real terms actually, because I spent a full two hours in Westminster on a busy Thursday, driving round and round in circles without finding a single warden. Sods law? I don’t know, but on Thursday London wasn’t the hornet’s nest of ticketing men I think of it as.
The project started out as a piece of social documentary. There is something quite grand about the way each London borough dresses its parking attendants, as if they were some kind of quasi-police. I like the way in the rain, wardens pull little elasticated splash hoods over their caps and some dress in floor length waterproof trench coats; there’s something archaic about it. I thought it would be easy to spin round town, snapping a warden in each of the city’s boroughs and getTING a story from each of the wardens in the process.
This is Ali from Karachi in Pakistan. He’s been living in Kilburn in the borough of Camden for some time. He was one of the few wardens who didn’t need persuading to be photographed (out of the 20 or so traffic wardens i approached, few were willing to be photographed; some even had little bits of paper on them with scribbles prescribing that they would face disciplinary action if they voluntarily talked to the “press” without seeking permission). He told me didn’t mind his job because he liked walking, although he was tired of people shouting at him. He couldn’t really offer me much of a story from Pakistan, but I think the portrait is telling enough.