Photographer Rupert Vandervell’s photo series entitled Man On Earth was inspired by his desire to show the isolation and sense of being alone even amidst the hustle and bustle of the modern city. “In our crowded world and with ever increasing population numbers, solitary moments like these are becoming harder to imagine,” he says. “I liked the idea that I could be photographing the last man on earth.”
He amassed this collection of photos over the course of a year, shooting London in an atypical manner. Despite having knowledge of the city streets, he discovered that some locations simply weren’t suited for the project, so he was left to explore less familiar sights to find the right balance.
He purposely left out any noticeable landmarks or street signs to add to the mystery and anonymity of the surroundings, giving the viewer the impression that this could be any city.
“Taking these pictures, I tried to remain at a distance but at the same time I wanted to intrude just a little on this solitude, enough to make us think a little about the character.”
Rupert emphasizes that the lighting was the most important factor. To achieve the stark contrast between black and white, he would often be left waiting a long time for the right moment. Seeing as the UK is notorious for its grey skies, the right balance between night and shade had to be carefully considered.
Some minor adjustments to the image crop and contrast were made during post-production, however the effects were achieved mostly in-camera. An Olympus EM-5 and 20mm were his chosen equipment on practically all of the images. “The Olympus is a wonderful camera, it’s very fast and I love the unfussy design and look,” he adds. “I always felt that it was right for the job.” Something lightweight and easy to conceal was the obvious choice for shooting the series, and it certainly delivered.