Interview: Photographer Mo Greig on ‘Life on the Streets’

Mo Greig is no stranger to the London street photography scene. She started the popular London daily photography blog A Glimpse of London in 2007 but in recent years, her photography has provided the opportunity to meet the people on the streets around Kings Cross and to tell their stories. What began as a hobby has become a career as an independent London based social documentary photographer and Mo is currently studying towards her MA in Visual Journalism and Documentary Photography at De Montfort University in Leicester.

Mo’s latest exhibition “Life On The Streets” is opening at the Hardy Tree Gallery in London on Monday and we took the opportunity to speak to Mo about her journey to London, her photography and life on the streets.

You're a Kiwi in London. Could you tell us a bit about who you are and your journey to the United Kingdom?

In 2004 I left NZ with a new digital camera and a dream to spend a year in France inspired by Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence. Well it didn’t quite work out like that. No money, no sponsor, just living the dream. London was where work was and for three years my partner and I commuted between London and Paris. It was tiring but fun. When the lease expired on the Paris apartment it was a logical step to move to London full time and I love it here!

Life on the Streets - Mo Greig

When did you first pick up a camera? Did you have any idea then that your hobby would become a form of artistic expression?

I had played around with a film camera in what seems like a lifetime ago now. It was the new digital camera that I bought to capture “the year away” that was the beginning of the photographic journey. In our travels around France I was amused by the art and sculpture on the roundabouts. Our road trips were punctuated with screams of “roundabout, roundabout” which was code for the driver to screech to a halt on busy auto routes so I could leap out of the car, dodge heavy traffic, and take a photo of some quirky installation in the centre of the rond point.

I’m not sure how but I found an equally crazy person who had a website and was collecting photographs of all of the roundabouts in France. Several of my photos were published on his site.

My passion for photographing quirky things continued when I came to London and thus my blog A Glimpse of London was born.

Did I have any idea that my hobby would become a form of artistic expression? No not then. But now it is the stories I want to tell with my photography that has lead me to my documentary photography.

Your upcoming exhibition "Life on the Streets" opens in London on Monday. Could you tell us a bit more about the focus of your photos and the people you photograph?

The aim of my work is to show those who live on the streets of Kings Cross as people with a name. People who live, laugh, and cry just like the rest of us. I wanted to take pictures that they would like. I realised when I starting giving them prints of the photos I had taken of them that the photos were special to them and held more personal value than I could have imagined. Since I started photographing them some have moved away, some have moved on to better things, sadly one has died, and as always, new people have arrived.

This exhibition is for every single person I have photographed on the streets of Kings Cross. I hope it shows their humanity and their sense of self and community against the backdrop of the challenges and difficulties in their lives.

Mo Greig - Life on the Streets

How did you approach your subjects? How willing were people are to tell their stories, especially to a relative stranger?

I spent time with my subjects. I know their names and a little of their lives. As time passes they begin to trust me and share more of their stories with me. I always give them a copy of the photograph I have taken and ask permission to use their images in my work. Now they or others new to our area often ask me if I will take their photographs.

In your experience of photographing homeless people over the past years, what would you say are the biggest issues facing vulnerable and destitute people today? Do you find that is something that is communicated through your portraits?

I am not a social worker, so I don’t feel qualified to talk on the issues that underpin some of the problems in society today. What I have seen is that those who are vulnerable nearly always have a lack of self-esteem and self worth.

I try to show a little of this in my portraits.

If you’d like to learn more about Mo’s documentary work with people on the streets, you can visit her website at

The “Life on the Streets” exhibition is running at the Hardy Tree Gallery, 119 Pancras Road, London, NW1 1UN from September 23-29 and is free to enter.

This artice first appeared on as Interview: Photographer Mo Greig on ‘Life on the Streets’.

The Grand Splendour of Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan

I learned two things on my trip to Italy in September, both relating to expectations. One is that photographs, especially those in travel guides, rarely do justice to the splendour and majesty of the places that they are trying to portray. These places look interesting, certainly, but it is often history and significance that draws you to a place and not those photos.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan

Conversely, sometimes photos do too much justice and fail to reflect the atmosphere of the areas surrounding places of interest. Thankfully we only had one disappointment on our journey (rare for me as I’m not a judgemental traveller) which was far exceeded by moments of delight and pleasant surprise.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan

Perhaps most surprising was Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II located just off the Piazza del Duomo which we might not have visited if it had been out of the way.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan

Have you ever had one of those moments where you need to put your camera down and simply experience being in a place? That happened to me in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. I was so impressed by the glass and metal of the dome and ceiling, the murals on the walls and the exquisite tile mosaics on the floor that I had to lower my camera and simply drink in the splendour as the late afternoon sun lit up the galleria in a soft, golden glow. It is a truly beautiful place.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the oldest shopping centres in Europe, if not the world. It was built by architect Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877 but sadly Mengoni never got to see his completed masterpiece as he fell from scaffolding shortly before the galleria’s inauguration and died.  Vittorio Emanuele II was the first king of the Kingdom of Italy and he ruled from 17 March 1861 to 9 January 1878.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan

What I didn’t capture in my photographs were the businesses and restaurants lining the walls of the galleria. Here we saw Prada and a Ferrari store and numerous boutique shops and expensive restaurants. Those didn’t interest me, not least because I’ve never liked shopping or shopping malls, but it says something that we resolved to go into the galleria and eat at one of the restaurants, no matter the price, and still couldn’t justify the expense. Perhaps one day I will regret missing out on a €25 pizza but hopefully not.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan

I do hope I’ve managed to capture the beauty of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II…

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan

… and the way the light was beautiful that late afternoon as it shone through the glass into the wonderful 19th century arcade below.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan

This was the first of my posts from our trip around Italy and we had a wonderful time. We hired a car for two weeks and travelled to Milan, Verona, Venice, Bologna, Imola, Tuscany and Florence.  To see all the posts from this trip and the weekend I spent in Italy in March, click here: Italy.

How was your summer (or indeed winter if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere)? Are you ready for the change of seasons? I’m personally loving the chance to wear all of my scarves and boots.

Photography: What Makes Us Care? by Kathryn Prescott

Lily Loveless - What Makes Us Care?

Actress Kathryn Prescott (Skins) first became aware of the strong reaction people had when they recognised her on the street. That moment when they thought they knew her and then realised who she is.

"But I wondered why my face caused some people to look twice at me, to come over and talk to me or ask how I was doing when the face of a person without a home, someone who probably needed all of these things far more than I, didn't get a second thought".

This lead Kathyrn to embark on a remarkable photography project. With the help of actors well known for their roles in both television and film, Kathryn took a set of photographs portraying these well known faces as damaged and destitute. In this way, she hopes to bridge the gap between those on the streets and the people who walk by them, barely noticing them. The actors include Francois Arnaud (The Borgias), Lily Loveless (Skins) and Craig Roberts (Being Human).

Francois Arnaud - What Makes Us Care?

The reality is that anybody can land up on the streets and it was reported this year that 8 million people are one paycheck away from homelessness. What causes a person, young or old, to decide that life on the streets is a better option than being at home? What if they've lost their home, their jobs, their ties with their family?

Prints of Kathryn's work are available to purchase and all proceeds made from sales and donations will be split equally between The Big Issue Foundation and homeless youth charity Centrepoint. To make a donation visit

I really enjoyed my visit to the exhibition and would certainly like to take another look. The photos are simple yet powerful and the makeup is quite extraordinary. This is a very important project and I commend Kathryn in her efforts.

The What Makes us Care? exhibition is running at St Martin-In-The-Fields from 18th September to 13th October 2013 and is free to enter.

St Martin-in-the-Fields
Trafalgar Square

One Night on the Isle of Wight

Recently Stephen, Melissa and I spent just one night in the Isle of Wight. It was our second visit to this tiny island and I can confidently say that it will not be our last. There is no end to the things you can do ranging from cultured outings in castles, museums and grand estates to family fun at theme parks, beaches and zoos.

On our previous visit to the Isle of Wight, we visited Carisbrooke Castle, the seaside town of Cowes, Arreton Old Village and we took a ride on the famous Isle of Wight Steam Railway.  Read on to see what we managed to squeeze into just one day and one night this time.

Getting to the Isle of Wight by Car

We partnered with Red Funnel, the original Isle of Wight ferry company, on this trip. We drove down to Southampton early on Saturday morning and caught the noon ferry to Cowes. The ferry journey is just 45 minutes and there are bars, television, entertainment for the kids and free wi-fi on board. 

While you can travel around the Isle of Wight on public transport, having a car is definitely an advantage and we have visited all four corners of the island on both visits, criss-crossing through the interior as we went.

Osborne House

Osborne House, The Isle of Wight

Osborne House is the country retreat of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It is situated just outside of Cowes and was the first main attraction that we saw once we’d disembarked from the ferry and were making our way south.

I’ll admit that I was only vaguely interested in Queen Victoria before visiting Osborne House but that certainly changed following our visit. In this grand old property, you gain an insight into who Queen Victoria was, of her love for Prince Albert and her devastation following his death from typhoid. The house is exquisitely furnished and filled with priceless ornaments, paintings, carpets and furniture that Queen Victoria amassed throughout her years. Most interesting was the story behind many of these gifts and the people that gave them to her.

Eating Out in Shanklin

The best piece of advice I can give you regarding eating out in Shanklin or anywhere in the Isle of Wight is to book ahead. We discovered this on our previous visit to the island but evidently it was a lesson we needed to learn twice. Once we had settled into our cosy rooms at the Roseglen Hotel, we walked into old town Shanklin and thought that we could get a table at any one of the fine restaurants in town. We were wrong. Every single restaurant was booked out for the entire evening and it was beginning to rain too. We were feeling rather bedraggled and forlorn by the time we approached the Vernon Cottage Inn. They didn’t have any tables inside, they told us, but they could offer us one of the heated booths outside. At first we certainly felt like we were compromising but ultimately we had a magical evening sitting in our warm and dry booths while we ate, drank and watched the rain fall over the garden.

A Glimpse of Shanklin Beach

Eastcliff Promenade, Shanklin Beach

Like so much of England, the Isle of Wight is beautiful when the sun is shining. After a particularly stormy evening, we woke up to a cold and grey Sunday morning. Thankfully, the Isle of Wight is also typically English in that you can expect four seasons in one day and conditions would certainly improve by lunchtime. Still, we were content to briefly admire Shanklin’s beach from afar that morning before heading out to my personal highlight

The Isle of Wight Bus Museum

This is going to come as a big surprise, I’m sure, but I am mad about old buses and vintage cars. I can trace this fascination back to the old Ladybird board book Tootles the Taxi and Other Rhymes which I am sure my poor mother knew off by heart after reading it to me repeatedly. Naturally, Oompus the omnibus was my favourite of all Tootles’ friends.

We had last visited the island during the winter months museum was closed and were thrilled to visit this time.

Bus boards at the Isle of Wight Bus Museum

The Isle of Wight Bus Museum is located in an old bus garage in Newport Quay and is a real treat. Not only are there all sorts of retro and vintage buses located under one roof, there are also signs, destination boards and all sorts of bus and transport paraphernalia. We got a real feel for the modern history of the island during our visit and I loved that you are able to climb on board each of the buses and explore their nooks and crannies.

Pearl Café at Isle of Wight Pearl

As we exited the museum, the sun broke through the clouds in a dazzling display of defiance and we decided to drive right across the island to have lunch in Brighstone. As we drove along the coastal path, we spotted a camp site right at the edge of the cliffs and I was really envious of the views despite the previous evening’s wind and rain. You can buy camping and ferry packages from Red Funnel and I imagine the best months for camping are June and July.

We stopped off at the Pearl Café at the Isle of Wight Pearl for lunch. The Pearl boasts the largest display of pearl jewellery in the United Kingdom but it was the freshly made food and incredible views that attracted us to this location. Once we’d sat on the benches outside and enjoyed our meal, we wandered closer to the edge of the green and laid in the grass while we took in the views.

The Pearl at Brighstone

It had been a short 24 hour break in the Isle of Wight but it somehow felt longer and we made our way back to Cowes feeling refreshed and relaxed.

Just one final note on the ferry back home. We checked in at the terminal a full hour before our return journey as requested and were very lucky be able to board the earlier ferry as it was not yet full. Sometimes it pays to be punctual and it was certainly nice to arrive back an hour earlier than planned!

You can look forward to more posts about the Isle of Wight as I show you more about the gardens at Osborne House and the old buses of the Isle of Wight Bus Museum but in the meantime, you can click on the label below to read more about what this island has to offer.

Exploring Ightham Mote in Kent

Exploring Ightham Mote, Kent

Of all the counties that I’ve visited in England (and I aim to visit them all), Kent is and always has been my favourite. Kent is the south-eastern most county, the Garden of England and it is an area absolutely steeped in history. The history of Kent is as old as Britain itself. The ancient Briton route Watling Street cut right through Kent and was later paved by the Romans and Chaucer’s pilgrims travelled through Kent to reach Canterbury. Indeed, the name ‘Canterbury’ derives from a word meaning ‘Kent people’s stronghold’.

It should be no surprise that when we chose to move out of London to escape high rentals and interminable grey, we chose Kent.  Of course, my own home is decidedly more modest but recently I visited Ightham Mote near Sevenoaks with my best friend Vanessa and her husband Quentin who were visiting from South Africa.

Exploring Ightham Mote, Kent

Ightham Mote (pronounced ‘ight’ as in ‘right’ but the second ‘h’ is silent) is a medieval moated manor house surrounded by extensive gardens, with lakes, wooded areas and orchards on the grounds.  The moat runs right around the house itself and would have provided some protection against local thieves and scoundrels. As a manor house, this house would have been built for a feudal lord or other landed gentry and the first recorded evidence of the house dates back to the early 14th century.

Exploring Ightham Mote, Kent

Ightham Mote is an important example of a medieval manor house and relatively few changes have been made to the main structure of the building since the Middle Ages, with the exception of the 16th century chapel. Much of the building itself is simply ancient and there is even some 18th century graffiti scratched into an upstairs window!

Exploring Ightham Mote, Kent

Ightham Mote ignited the child inside of all of us and we spent a long time exploring the gardens and taking photos of the exterior of the house.

Exploring Ightham Mote, Kent

It is no surprise that Ightham Mote is a Grade I listed building but it also has the only Grade I listed dog kennel in the United Kingdom.  The kennel (pictured below) stands over two metres tall and was built for a female St Bernard called Dido in 1890. She must have been a very big girl indeed.

Exploring Ightham Mote, Kent

The house is built around a completely enclosed courtyard which was lovey and cool on the day that we visited. I enjoyed the chance to get a closer look at the detail of the building and the stained glass windows.

Exploring Ightham Mote, Kent (9)

I especially loved the clock tower with its original bell and one-handed clock which was built in 1798. The bell only strikes the hours.

Exploring Ightham Mote, Kent

We were told that the house had been owned by many people over the years including “Medieval knights, courtiers to Henry VIII and high society Victorians” but that it was gifted to the National Trust by Charles Henry Robinson in 1985.  Thank goodness for that; Ightham Mote is an excellent day out and the interior is even more exciting than the grounds. That is a whole other post though!

Exploring Ightham Mote, Kent

Have you ever visited a grand old manor house, palace or castle? Which captured your imagination the most?

Ightham Mote
Mote Road
Ivy Hatch
TN15 0NT
T: 01732 810378 (extension 100)