In a world of mega-chains and big box stores like Starbucks, Home Depot and Wal-Mart, is there still a place for small, independently run businesses? In her ongoing series Métier: Small Businesses in London, started in 2007, photographer Laura Braun, finds that, at least in her neighbourhood, small independent businesses somehow manage to stay afloat, operating in a way that is in stark contrast to corporate culture. Perhaps large cities like London, with their diverse populations, allow for the survival of such small businesses, where space and service are personal, and wares and tools have a tangible connection with individual histories and precise needs that can’t be met by more standardized operations. Braun’s photographs of retail stores and workshops, and the shopkeepers and craftsmen and -women who operate them, depict a segment of the London population who take pride in their work, their specific skills, and have a sense of self that is closely linked to their occupations.
Laura Braun is a German-born photographer and film-maker who divides her time between Berlin and London. She studied art, design, photography and sociology at Central St. Martin’s and Goldsmiths College and has since worked for editorial and commercial clients as well as exhibited her personal work in the U.K. and internationally. Her photographs have appeared in publications such as Kinfolk, Lucky Peach, Monocle, The Telegraph Magazine and Hole & Corner, as well as in campaigns for Wedgewood, The Photographers’ Gallery (London) and Universal. She is also the founder of Paper Tiger Books, which publishes her own work, as well as that of colleagues and collaborators.