The Silence of Dogs in Cars by Martin Usborne in London, UK

I was once left in a car at a young age. I don’t know when or where or for how long, possibly at the age of four, perhaps outside a supermarket, probably for only fifteen minutes. The details don’t matter. The point is that I wondered if anyone would come back. The fear I felt was strong: in a child’s mind it is possible to be alone forever.

Around the same age I began to feel a deep affinity with animals – in particular their plight at the hands of humans. I saw a TV documentary that included footage of a dog in a plastic bag being kicked. What appalled me most was that the dog could not speak back.

I should say that I was a well-loved child and never abandoned, and yet it’s clear that these experiences arose deep inside me a fear of being alone and unheard.

When I started this project I knew the photos would be dark. In a sense, I was attempting to go back inside my car, to re-experience what I couldn’t bear as a child. What I didn’t expect was to see so many subtle reactions by the dogs: some were sad, some expectant, some angry, some dejected. It was as if I had opened a box of grey-coloured pencils and was surprised to see so many shades inside.

There is life in the darkest places inside us.

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Name:Martin Usborne

Place you live: East London

Specific location your photos were taken: East London, where I live.

Can you sum up East London? Vibrant, ever-changing, contradictory, infuriating, exciting and more. East London is pulsing with life and that brings out the best and the worst of what life has to offer: energy and creativity, new businesses and ideas, great food and events, wonderful parks and open spaces, but also poverty, social housing problems, crime, political tensions.

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Occupation: Photographer

Preoccupation: Animals in the city, animals in relation to humans, just animals.

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What is your perfect day in London? Walking the dogs in a local park, visiting a food market with friends, drinking a beer on the canal at night, then watching a movie.

What is the best thing about your spot? It is close to the markets, parks, and shops

What is the worst? London fields on a sunny day become ghettos for hipsters. It looks like a mini Glastonbury with all the grass burnt by tiny BBQs.

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If your city was a person or character who would it be? 
A youngish person full of contradictions – rich but poor, stylish in a retro way, pretentious but deeply lovable, annoying but hilarious, full of great ideas that often fail, sometimes too loud with a lurking sadness deep inside. Hmmm, not sure I want to live with that person actually.

Who are three of your favorite photographers right now? Bill Brandt (always. I love the silent black and whites). Todd Hido (for his raw beauty) and a third person who I will leave blank to allow for daily inspiration.

Martin’s amazing photo book The Silence of Dogs in Cars is available here



Name:Martin Usborne

City:East London

Best place to eat?

Pavilion Cafe on the weekend.

Best place to drink?

Anywhere on the canal on a sunny evening.

Best place to shop?

The shops around Redchurch Street.

If someone was visiting what must they do?

Walk around and find their own route!