All posts tagged: Charlie Kwai

Portrait of Humanity: Love, life and death in Mexico

In Charlie Kwai’s winning Portrait of Humanity image, a young child stands drinking milk from a bottle, seemingly stunned by the camera, and dressed in a Captain America costume. The photograph was taken in Mexico City in 2016, just a few days after Donald Trump won the presidential election in the US. “To see a Mexican boy dressed as Captain America seemed ironic,” Kwai explains. “At the time, and since, the rhetoric from the US administration has been extremely negative towards Mexicans.” The image is typical of Kwai’s work. Up close and severe, it embodies the beliefs at the heart of his practice; that “a picture exists to create discussion.” Kwai has long-established himself as a confrontational street photographer, but he insists this is not the case, and that while the proximity between himself and his subject can often appear intrusive, it in fact reflects their intimacy. Starting out shooting on the streets of London, Kwai has since taken his high-flash, up-close approach to portraiture elsewhere, specifically Mexico. Basing himself in the country’s capital, his …


Charlie Kwai’s Unapologetically Confrontational Street Photography

Born and raised in London, Charlie Kwai has always been fascinated by untold narratives about those around him, but it wasn’t until a stint working as a freelance graphic designer in tourist hotspot Piccadilly Circus that he started to carve out his singular niche in street photography. He soon discarded the Pentax K1000 he had stolen from college almost a decade earlier in favour of a digital camera, and began to seek respite from his frustrating day job by capturing the characters he found around him. “I’d go out on lunch and spend a full hour taking photos. I wouldn’t even eat sometimes, and then after work I would stay out from six until eight most nights,” he says. Before long, his uncanny ability to pinpoint moments of clarity and stillness in bustling crowds of tourists – a Burger King-crowned princess perched pensively on a stone step, or a family so archetypal they appear like a waxwork parody of themselves – grew into a day job all its own. “What gets me out of bed …


BJP Staff