The FT asked students in photojournalism and documentary photography to shoot a photo essay on the theme of London and the World. The winning entry from José Sarmento Matos is published here, along with a selection of the best images from other students at the London College of Communication
Chasing London, by José Sarmento Matos. People from around the world come to London looking for a better life, a job and a safe place to live. However, London is not always an easy place to make a living and some families struggle with high rents, the cost of living and low wages. Isabel, who was born in Ecuador, moved to London in January this year with a European passport. She arrived from Spain, where she had raised her teenage children, Miguel and Korema.
After her marriage broke down and she was the victim of crime, she fled with her children to start a new life. Isabel says her arrival in London was “one of the most difficult times of my life”. She struggled to find an affordable home for her family, but landlords would not accept her with two children. “I cry almost every day, desperate as I do not find a flat,” she told me when I first met her in south London earlier this year.
Isabel and her children have moved from flat to flat, hosted by Latin Americans who offered to house the family for a while. Their hosts live in small homes and do not have the space to accommodate guests for long. Since January, Isabel and her children have stayed in six flats.
Isabel is now studying English and earns money cleaning and sewing. However, the family is still in a two-room flat shared with three other people.
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Stephanie Khiara’s image taken in a supermarket is from a series about British queueing. “Visitors won’t be surprised by the queues themselves but perhaps by the stiff response for not following the rules and falling into line,” she says.
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Oliver Tucker’s project The Serps explores a quirky aspect of London life – the year-round swimming club at the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park.
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Martin Alan Smith’s series focuses on how foreign investors’ money has fuelled construction in the city and contributed to driving up prices. “Wealth from all around the world is attracted to London, but it is not always benefiting the citizens of the nation’s capital,” he says.
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Francesco Ragazzi arrived from Italy in January to study. Monday Morning, his series of images of commuters, was inspired in part by people drawn to London in search of job opportunities in the wake of the financial crisis. “Britain and London are the mirage for us, the young and older citizens of European crises.”