A Photographer's Guide to London

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For creative inspiration, there are few cities more exciting than London. Photographer, Root + Bone and 40ft micro-brewery co-founder Steve Ryan takes us on a tour of his favourite haunts. 

I’ve been living in London since 2010 and have spent most of that time in Hackney. Dublin is still my favourite city in the world, and it becomes harder to leave every time I come home for a visit, but Hackney is a similar size and I’ve managed to recreate a lifestyle here that mirrors the one I had at home. I work as a photographer, specialising in food and drink, but in 2013 I started a quarterly magazine with some colleagues called Root + Bone, and then in 2015 I opened a micro-brewery called 40ft with some friends. I now enjoy working all the hours of each day on all three. Thankfully, one involves beer.

root + bone magazine

For a good life, you need good beer. Clapton Craft (below), on Clapton Road, is a bottle shop in East London. They started out near where I live, but now have two other locations in Walthamstow and Kentish Town. Clapton Craft stocks all the great local breweries as well as a wide selection of the best from around the world. I’m big into 75cl sharing bottles at the moment. When drinking at home, I like to drink beer like wine, from a large bottle, shared with friends.

@fleurdelysldn rocking a pineapple.

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When I’m looking for peace in the city, I head to The National Gallery. It’s a landmark in the city and I love to sit in the vast galleries, there is something so calming about the place. The Photographers’ Gallery is always worth a visit too, of course. It’s ideally located at the edge of Soho and usually has two or three really good shows on.

Clapton craft

To eat, right now, I’m loving Smokestak (below) on Sclater Street in Shoreditch. These guys have been the barbecue kings of the street food scene in the UK since 2014, but this is their first bricks and mortar venue. Entering through a large iron door, you are instantly enveloped in smoke from the open kitchen. Huge meat smokers line the walls opposite and the attention to detail is meticulous. Smokestak’s owner, David Carter, spent months searching the world for the black cutlery alone. My fiancé always knows when I’ve been there, as I smell of burnt wood for days.


For ethnic eats, Mangal 2 on Arcola Street in Dalston is not to be missed. It’s BYOB, which is an added bonus, and there’s an off-licence conveniently located just across the street. I’ve been coming here for six years and always order the same meal: mixed mezze to start with their own freshly baked bread, with a large glass of ayran (a salty yoghurt drink), followed by a large mixed meat platter (lamb kofte, lamb shish, lamb chop, quail, chicken wings, more lamb), a large salad, and a yoghurt and tomato based lamb shish dish. To finish, I suggest a Turkish tea with two lumps of sugar, the amount needed to give you the energy to get out of your chair.

Broadway market, shot by Steve Ryan.

Broadway market, shot by Steve Ryan.

For a rummage, my favourite haunt is Cecil Court, located just off Charing Cross Road at the beginning of Covent Garden. This street is lined with antiquarian books, general ephemera and map shops run by eccentric characters. I love this street for the same reason I love The National Gallery. I find this quirky collection of shops relaxing and inspiring in equal measure, and each time I walk away with a renewed appreciation for the historical heritage of this city.

Follow Steve on Instagram and prepare to drool over hi foodie travels.