Documentary Photography

9 Portraits from my Postcode

Exterior Single Portrait


People rushing to their next destination in the winter at the Metropolitan town centre, which has a variety of shops, restaurants, banks and building societies, coffee shops and great department stores. During the Christmas bargain season, this venue can be a special place for young families. Junko came to shop there. Her daughter starts sleeping in her buggy. It is not a problem as the shopping center is just two minutes walk from the Harrow Bus Station where buses can accommodate the baby carriages.

Exterior Group Portrait


Over a fifth of Harrow land is designated as Green Belt, which is equivalent to eight Hyde Parks. They are members of a local football team, Vicky, Ray, Jamie, Chriss and Adam. They benefit from its relaxed and leafy environment and enjoy football on the playing field every Sunday morning. After their end of year game, they are ready to ambush their winter holiday.

Interior Single Portrait


Kieran studies Music at the University of Westminster, one of the many educational facilities located in Harrow, in addition to Harrow and Stanmore Colleges. At the University of Westminster’s Harrow campus, other such students receive education in media, arts and design.

Interior Group Portrait


Harrow benefits from both the vibrancy and diversity related to London, which allures retirees and pensioners. At this popular café in Wealdstone Library, people hang around and enjoy talking with old friends.

The Face


The name Harrow is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word, meaning temple or sacred grove. As one of the most religiously diverse communities, you will find many churches, mosques and temples in Harrow. His name is Sri, the head Hindu priest in Harrow Temple. The white lines on his head are “holy ash” made from burned cow dung. The yellow line is from sandalwood. The red dot is called Kumkum made of burnt turmeric. They paint their head with Kumkum when they do good things, for example, morning or Pooja. Pooja is held four times a day followed by a delicious Sri Lankan free meal for the prayers. They welcome all the prayers regardless of their background.

The Environmental Demographic Portrait


Boasting a wide range of quality and attractive housing, a low crime rate and good hospitals, no wonder Harrow has been an attractive city for many families. This couple usually enjoys gardening in their beautiful garden, but every Christmas season, Bernard performs as a Santa Clause for the local pre-school. Alison was born and spent her childhood in Sri Lanka because of her family business. They have enjoyed encountering people from different cultures and watched the changing of Harrow.


The Self Portrait


Harrow has good links to the Transport for London public network, such as a 14-minute rail link to Euston station. This means that the residential area becomes almost empty during weekdays. I like to stay in the empty town and enjoy taking photos and exploring possibilities which cannot usually be found in my home country.

The Strange Story


For the very best in international football matches, Harrow is also on the doorstep of Wembley Stadium, situated only 10 minutes from Harrow on the Metropolitan train line.
Ade first came to the UK from Nigeria 32 years ago dreaming of being a world class footballer. As one of the first African immigrants, he experienced the racial segregation and also the changing of the society. At first, he encountered signs on pubs which banned African, Irish and dogs to enter, which is now unthinkable.
Back in the 1980's, he wore two hats, as a football apprentice and as a part-time at a bakery in order to save money.
Sometimes, choosing to sleep in a tube station when he did not have time to return home between jobs. He finally had to give up his dream due to a foot injury. However, at the hospital, he met the woman who would become his wife. His son, Ben is now teaching soccer for kids in the US. They used to go to Wembley Stadium to see football games together. This Christmas season, they watched the game on television and appreciate the time together as a family.

The Fictional Story


The local Sri Lankan shop owner Shiva rarely opens the shelf of “can't find what you're looking for?” But when he does, there’s a little secret that makes his shop popular with the local immigrant communities.
As one of the most racially diverse cities with lots of first generation immigrants, they cope with each other regardless of their origin. If you ask the shop owner for a red bag, he will serve you a secret tobacco. Rolled up into a cigarette and smoked, this triggers a Genie to arrive and take you to your hometown, wherever that may be in the world, for thirty minutes. This is highly secret, but at the same time, this has made the shop popular to many first generations who have left their home. I was lucky enough to find out by accident, I wanted a red bag as it is my favourite colour. This bag-fever took hold among Sri Lankan immigrants five years ago, but soon many ethnic groups such as East Europeans and East Asians ask for it. Next time you visit a Sri Lankan store, don’t forget to look which colour bags are being served.
(c) 2014 Aya Watanabe