Summer Steel photographs the community of Mottingham – a suburban district in South East London

Words by Summer Steel

SE9 is the postal code of a suburban area outside of central London, in the South East. SE9 depicts my home life in a town called Mottingham, photographing people who live within the postal code. I photographed my friends, neighbours and most importantly, family in locations from the comforts of home, to going to places that I know of growing up, such as Foxes Fields.

Mottingham is a small town in London that is seen to a lot of people as run down, but I see it as home. Mottingham is the home of two big council estates, Cold harbour and Mottingham estate, which places those who urgently need housing. Crime and drug rates have risen during the years due to gang culture and poverty.

I aimed to take photographs of different characters of different ages, from 6-50, creating more contrast within my work. I believe diversity is important when it comes to documentary photography as the wider the range, the broader your subject area becomes. I don’t just tend to focus on people, but also the environment, and looking at how people and items fit into it. Although it is important to dip into the characters lives to understand the impact they have on the hostile environment.

The best thing about Mottingham is that it has a sense of strong community, who support each other through harsh times. I wanted this project to emphasis the community I had growing up and those who have been, and who still are, strong influences on my life. Documenting places that I have visited and how they have changed along with the different generations who inhabit them.

‘Mottingham is a well-formed community. Yes, there is crime, but if someone's gonna attack you in any way then at least you know you will be close to where someone you know lives and has a place you can run to.’ - Molly Mole, Castleton Road.

‘Mottingham is a small community where shops schools and buses are within walking distance. The crime rate is high but the people are friendly.’ - Debbie Steel, Framingham Cresent.

‘It has the look of your average council estate, but it's actually the heart of a very friendly community with a mix of people, who, without each other would otherwise be very lonely.’ - Michelle Harris, Ravensworth Road.

As a publisher and Community Interest Company, TRIP is dedicated to showcasing unconventional stories that may otherwise be overlooked. We aim to give a platform to the unseen and a microphone to the ignored. Expression is a right and should not be confined to those that can afford to work for free; which is why we strive to support a diverse range of creatives in their work, commissioning exciting projects and creatives to visualize them.

Founded as a magazine in 2013 by photographer, Dean Davies, TRIP was born from a desire to provide opportunity and exposure for image-makers across multiple platforms and medias. With a focus on people and place, in 5 years TRIP gained a loyal readership, and became known for its honest image output and representation of the underrepresented, featuring over 800 image-makers from across the world through a website, 5 magazines and 3 free zines.

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Dean Davies
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