The photographs in On The Night Bus are taken by Nick Turpin between the hours of 5.30pm and 7.30pm across three UK winters. They are all shot in London though the scenes they express could be from almost any urban centre across the country, there is nothing in particular to ascribe them to the capital. And their mood – of reflection and occasionally despair – will be familiar to anyone who has experienced regular work commutes by bus.
“I photographed into the top deck of the bus from a raised platform using a long lens and very slow shutter speeds,” writes Turpin in the book’s introduction. “It was generally unpleasantly cold and wet.”
The title of this book actually speaks of something more exciting than its contents present. At least to me, as a long-time London dweller, ‘the night bus’ suggests the hours after the tube has closed and the endless traffic has waned somewhat, when you can whip across the city on a bus at times and speeds utterly unheard of during the day.
There is a thrill to those night bus journeys that is not evident in Turpin’s shots, and instead mundanity is the point in his work. People sit huddled, staring blankly out of the windows, which are heavy with condensation, wishing the time and the journey away.
“Standing outside in the dark shooting into the lit and humid interior of the bus allowed me to remain largely invisible to my subjects,” Turpin continues. “They were in their own worlds, sleeping, reading, texting or just staring. I became aware that their commute was an odd period of anonymous ‘no man’s land’ between work and home, a transition from the person known by their colleagues to the person known by their families and friends.”
On The Night Bus is published by Hoxton Mini Press, priced £16.95. hoxtonminipress.com