CNN Photos

A fresh look at London’s Soho

Swedish photographer Anders Petersen moved to London for a month last year and turned his camera to the city’s famous Soho district, a transformed area once known for its sex shops and nightlife.

Since the 1980s it has developed into a fashionable part of town with shops, restaurants, theaters and film studios.

“I think it is even more friendly today and perhaps more open for everyone,” said Petersen, who previously visited the area in the 1970s.

Getting out onto the streets early afforded him the opportunity to catch the “light and the innocence of the city.” But the cold March air prevented him from finding extended amounts of time for photographing, not to mention subjects willing to be photographed, he said.

Petersen’s residency was part of a series of off-site artist commissions by The Photographers’ Gallery with support from Bloomberg. His photographs were turned into a book, “Soho,” released May 20.

The black-and-white images offer an intimate view of some of the city’s residents, while allowing room for individual interpretation.

“When looking at a black-and-white picture you add, without knowing it, your own personal color experiences to the picture,” Petersen said.

When he reviews his photos from over the years, he sees a family album. He looks for things he can identify himself with instead of focusing on differences or what separates him from the people in his photographs.

Many of the images have a sexual charge, but he said that’s just part of being interested in people.

“I don’t specially look for sexuality,” he said. “But I don’t avoid it.”

In a timeless way, Soho is revealed as a place that is at once modern and historic, filled with diverse people.

“For me photography is an adventure and a way to learn something more about people,” Petersen said. “If you are curious like me, it’s a privilege being a photographer.”

- Elizabeth I. Johnson, CNN