I get sent a lot of photos from people and for the most part I hit next as it's the same repetitive photos when it comes to graffiti writers or "ex graffiti writers" — crew pics, boosting, some tags, some boobs — it's all the same just different names and blurred-out faces. But the lifestyle teaches you a lot. You gain an eye for noticing things and you can predict things happening before they do. You know how to talk the talk and walk the walk and participate in ways that most can’t. And every so often someone like yourself brings something refreshing to the table. When I first came across your work I wanted to jump on a plane and see what was cracken in London as I felt I was missing out on a whole new world. And then I found out you where in jail and that balloon popped haha
1. So after all you went through in the last two years, who is THE LONDON VAGABOND since coming home this past September?
The London Vagabond has come out as a reformed character! Nah, in all honesty I've just been settling back into reality and have got straight back to shooting as much as I can! I'm sure a few people will say I have come out a little bit more screwed up than before, perhaps they're right...
2. Take me through your early days growing up in London. And how did you get into photography?
TLV- My mum always brought me up to be polite and respectful but by a real young age I started to rebel. I got involved in graffiti by 12 and became immersed in the whole culture of it! Anybody that knows about Graffiti knows there is a hell of a lot more to it than writing your name on shit, I got caught up in the beef, racking, bunking and breaking into different places. My life totally revolved around graffiti but stealing became part of the lifestyle, I couldn't afford paint and pens so I went out and stole as much of it as possible, I travelled all over the country stealing paint, electricals, books, and clothes. One day I stole 5 or 6 digital cameras from this shop and thought I'd keep one. From that day onward I carried it everywhere photographing us travelling around the country, documenting all the crazy stuff we used to get up to. Not long after I was raided, which resulted in the confiscation of my digital camera. I picked up a film camera and never looked back! A few years later I realised that I was developing a portfolio and as my interests evolved so did my photos.
3. I personally love chaos and adrenaline rushes on all levels however it comes. I found that same rush in photography and putting myself in extreme situations. Do you find your photography filling a gap from your past lifestyle?
TLV- I feel the same way, I am always seeking a buzz... whether that be through photography, graffiti or by giving into my hedonistic tendencies. I get bored very quickly, if I stay at home too much I end up craving something mad. I need to be in fucked up situations or I am genuinely unhappy - I am lucky that photography gives me that excuse to dive head first into things without any thought of consequence. Even if something goes bad during whatever I am doing at least I will get a photo by the end of it.
4. What's more important to you the photo or the moment?
TLV- It is all about the moment, the photo is purely physical evidence of what happened. I'm a storyteller and if I didn't have the photos to back my words then I would seem like the most deluded fantasist around. If I didn't take the photo I would completely forget the moment no matter how weird or whatever it was, my memory is shit I barely remember what I got up to last week.
5. Sex seems to be a main focus in your newer work and it has a very intimate vibe. Are they more spontaneous sexual acts or do you arrange shoots?
TLV - I wouldn't say that it is necessarily sex that has become my main focus but I surround myself with promiscuity and hedonism. I arrange the occasional shoot but whatever happens on the shoot tends to be a natural progression. My more intimate work comes from the people I have worked with for a long time, people I am real close with. My personal life is being put in the frame.
6. Have you ever been in a situation where you know this ain't right but keep shooting anyways?TLV- I've been in situations where I have been like how the hell am I here? There was this one time where I was invited to sit in on a dominatrix doing a session with one of her slaves. I had to abide by certain rules whilst I was in her dungeon including remaining naked the entire time, ultimately I became part of the fantasy. The session resulted in the slave having his penis pierced with over 40 needles whilst high on mephedrone and poppers. I was asked to pass over each sterilized needle one by one before they were forced through his skin. Nothing ever really phases me I am pretty desensitized.
7. Often wild nights wake up with regret. Have you ever been asked to get rid of photos? And if so, what stance do you have if the photo is just too good to be put on ice?
TLV - I've had to hold back on releasing a few photos, lets just say that if certain photos got released they could ruin relationships! I'm lucky to photograph everyone that I do, it all comes down to trust and because they trust me, I have to have respect for them. My photos are real life!
8. What are you working on now?
TLV - I'm in the process of releasing my first solo zine titled "rats in the walls." All the photos were shot post release from prison in the confines of my own home while still subject to a home detention curfew order. So everything in the zine was shot in the space of 3 months. I am still in the process of laying everything out but it will be dropping soon!
9. Let's end on a high note. What's your most iconic photo and why?
TLV - I don't think my most iconic photo has been taken yet..I think certain series of photos define certain parts of my life. There's an element of iconicity in the zine I am soon to release..watch this space I guess!