Johnny Stiletto's Gritty Photos of '80s London


The anonymous photographer Johnny Stiletto (a pseudonym, of course) captured the London of the ’80s through a streetwise lens, capturing the day to day life of the average man with gravity and beauty — as well as sneaking a peek at a celebrity now and again. “I like interaction,” he told the Telegraph , “I like an eye line. I like people who look stylish. I don’t do it at weekends, because people are less interesting when they’re being ‘weekendy’. Winter tends to be better than summer, because bright daylight is not very rewarding. I like evenings.” Stiletto’s photographs have recently compiled into a collection entitled Vintage ’80s: London Street Photography, which is definitely worth a look. In the meantime, check out some of our favorites of his shots (and Stiletto’s charming and elucidating ruminations on his subjects) after the jump, and then be sure to head over to his website for many more.

“The traffic has brought her to a halt by the words that say Look Right. Right now, at this moment, this place in time, she does. She can never look more right.”

“The crew of the Ford are two kids who can’t believe the awesomeness of the trophy they’ve just smashed into and the sheer quality of damage they’ve done.”

“This is Geoffrey Bernard being unwell in the Groucho Club… You’re not supposed to take photographs in the Groucho Club, but then, there are lots of things you’re not supposed to do in the Groucho Club, but people still do.”

“Restaurants are places where people fall in love. Fall in luck. Fall out of luck. Hit the money. Hit the deck. Hit the waiter. Leave their husbands. Meet their wives. First dates. Last dates. Becomes mistresses. Become yesterday. Break hearts. Break news. Make news. Trade gossip. Eat food. Make food. Make a mint. Watch people. Meet friends and wear leopard skin boots.”

“For moments like this you need to keep it straight. Camera at face level and press the button. The big boys did for him. Fry Me, I’m Freddie.”

“Here’s Francis Bacon his way to the French pub in Soho. Bacon used to go through periods of massive sobriety when he was working and massive insobriety when he wasn’t. Notice the pushed up purposeful sleeves of the leather jacket.”

“Somewhere in Victoria I find an old man in a worn overcoat with a cap and a scarf selling copies of the London Evening Standard up against a hoarding. Nothing fancy, nothing odd, nothing strange, just a straight on shot. I press the trigger. John Lennon Shot Dead.”

“She’s clocked the plonk and I like her knitted hat and the way she holds her cigarette.”

“And here it is, trapped in Indian timelessness, framed by a pillar and a silhouetted face, cigarette smoke so close and so attached to the mouth that could almost be a beard. Life is a cloud, build no castles on it.”

“In Holborn a woman is taking her clothes off in the street. The odd thing was that nobody really took that much notice. And the other odd thing was that for once was that I wasn’t so drop jawed about a strange event that I did actually take a whole roll of shots.”

“This is not a whacked wino. This is someone who started the day with pride, put on some good new clothes. Then, something so substantial happened to her that now she’s out for the count drunk with an opened can of beer beside her in a shop doorway while better controlled, more boring flatties pass by and don’t stop.”

“Here’s Kinsley Amis walking through the Tate just after 1pm. I don’t think he’s here for the Marcel Duchamps.”

Francis Bacon on the Piccadilly Line.