12th November 2019
On The Night Bus
Introduction text Will Self (2016), On the Night Bus, Nick Turpin. Hoxton Mini Press
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known1 Corinthians 13:12 (from within the book)
I stumbled upon the photographer Nick Turpin while I was researching the technique of fill flash. The work within this book’s very similar in style to some of the images that Dougie Wallace takes of people on buses through windows.
The book is published by an independent mini press (Hoxton Mini press) an I have to say the quality of the hardback book is very good. On opening up the book you are given an A5 double sided card with text titles on both side presented in gold which makes the card look quite exclusive. One side has Nick Turpin’s bio and on the other information about Hoxton Mini Press.
The layout of the book begins with an introduction by Will Self titled, ‘I Used To Take The Night Bus.’ It is a description of his travels late in London once the tubes had stopped running. An account of the journey’s people, atmosphere and environment, in fact it sets the scene well for the photographs that follow.
Immediately following the introduction is a two page spread with a photograph of Turpin with his camera and then a ‘Photographer’s Note.’ In this text we read the synopsis connected with On The Night Bus’s work. We find out that the 49 images were:
… made over three winters between 5.30pm and 7.30pm as commuters travelled home by bus from their jobs in The City of London to the suburbs. I photographed into the top deck of the bus from a raised platform using a long lens and very slow shutter speeds.Nick Turpin, London, 2016 (From the book ‘On The Night Bus’
Standing outside looking in at a specific place he can take his photographs without the subjects noticing him. Turpin saids that he sees his work as an important and historical document where he is freezing reality. The only thing that I am bemused with is that he states he used sow shutter speeds but as far as I can tell none of the images are blurred, unless I am not looking closely enough.
I feel the books layout does not do the images justice. The images are mostly spread out onto two pages so they become broken in half by the centre of the book. There are very few single pages with images on them and those that do are presented small scale.
What I really love about Nick Turpin’s images are there atmosphere, the steamed up windows are an amazing addition to the images. Then there are those with the colour as we can see in the example above – 34.
The subjects in his photographs sometimes appear on their own, as a couple or with out of focus people in the background. The people may be getting home from work, school or shopping and are caught sleeping, reading, texting, thinking or listening to music etc… But I do n to know why, these everyday scenes that I am used to from when I lived in a London Borough and travelled the late buses through London are so interesting? Is it because I am nosey or perhaps because I reminds me of this late night bus rides?
What I have found very interesting is the Catalogue of images at the back of the book which follow straight o from the photographs. The images are presented within a contact sheet layout and are labeled with the title and image number. This is so much better than having the text on the page with the images as it distracts the eyes sometimes.
I have found this book a pleasure to look through and it has inspired my imagination. I have taken photographs of people on buses myself but from within the bus and usually always in front of scratched windows as graffiti and text is one of my loves in the art and design and photography worlds.
I bought this book second hand for a mere fraction. of the price it is to purchase new, but to be honest I would have bought this new if I had to. On finding out about Hoxton Mini Press, I have looked at other photography books that they sell and have purchased one already (second hand) and have searched and book marked others for future purchases.
I do not mind buying books as long as they serve a purpose either to please me because of their subject matter or have images or a technique that I can learn from.
This book really does please me.