When I moved to Deptford in autumn 2009, I was immediately struck by the strong sense of community here, something I had never experienced anywhere else in London. Walking down the High Street, seeing the same faces again and again, groups of people chatting on street corners, people calling each other by first names, people actively supporting local businesses and local causes, got me interested in getting involved. Having used photography as a tool to meet and hear stories for many years, I was planning to make a visual ethnography of the High Street, but first I spent 6 months researching the area and getting to know people to build up some contacts and trust. I photographed and interviewed for 18 months during which I’ve heard happy and sad stories, positive and negative aspects of life here, embellished memories of the past and worries about the future, all of which I recorded. This project not only enabled me to get a better understanding of the area and its people, but also helped me establish long-lasting relationships essential to a sense of belonging in an area. The project was also a catalyst for further projects involving local people.
Anita Strasser is an urban photographer living in Deptford. She is currently studying towards an AHRC-funded PhD in Visual Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, that looks at the regeneration of Deptford. Many of her photographic projects document social histories through visual ethnographies – photographic research practice combined with story-telling. For more information please see: anitastrasser.com