The Concept

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Long Service: London is an ongoing personal photographic project, celebrating London's restaurant/cafe/pub/club scene and its longest-serving members of staff.

As a general rule I'm trying to find people with a minimum of 18 years' service, who work in venues that serve hot food. But I’ve already encountered wonderful, dedicated people with up to 56 years service under their belts.

I've been trying to remember how I first thought of the project idea but can't quite put my finger on it. I guess the project came about from my love of dining out. It’s always such fun to try the newest venues, but I the places that I have the deepest affection for are those that I have visited time and again. There are certain places that are simply icons of the London restaurant scene. So I started to think about what it is that makes these places so special. They might have a signature dish, or a favourite table that you always want to sit at. But it’s the people you meet at a restaurant, bar or cafe that can really make or break an experience. Indeed they might very well be the most underrated element of a great dining experience.

With this project, I set out to celebrate those who’ve shown a quiet (or not so quiet!) dedication to their place of work over the years. To champion their loyalty. I started by getting in touch with a few of my favourite spots in London, and I’ve been humbled by the warm responses so far. When I reflect upon everyone I’ve photographed and interviewed to date, it’s apparent that their careers in hospitality have been true vocations. They care deeply for their businesses and for their customers, and are committed to delivering exceptional experiences every time.

I'm keen to include a diverse range of places, I’ve been delighted to have worked with some of London's most prestigious restaurants, as well as local, family-run cafes.

The idea is to give equal weight to the venue and member of staff, with one main wide-angled photograph of the person unposed within the space. I then shoot a closer, more posed, portrait as well as a few details within the restaurant. I'm also asking some questions about the restaurant and area, how things have changed over the years, and finding out about their time there (already had a few classic tales). I'll write something about the history of the venue itself too.

Frequent updates to follow so keep checking in!

— If you've been working at the same restaurant, cafe or pub for around 20 years or more, or are an owner who's still 'hands-on', I'd love to hear from you. peter@peter-jackson.co.uk

 
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