These stunning historical photographs were taken from the book ‘Street Life in London,’ and it was one of the first books of social documentary photography. It is also credited as the first instance in which photographs were used as social documentation. The authors, photographer John Thomson and journalist Adolphe Smith, aimed to reveal the conditions of a life of poverty in London by using photography and essays. The book was released in monthly installments and later as a single volume.
Thomson and Smith combined unposed, documentary images of street vendors, beggars, and other workers with interviews, essays, and reportage exploring poverty as a sociological problem to be studied and alleviated. They also interviewed their subjects and published their thoughts and stories in the book.