Photographer Takes ‘Then & Now’ Photos of Women Met on London Streets 30 Years Ago

Street Photography by Anita Corbin

Margie and Samantha

In 1980, Anita Corbin trekked around London capturing revealing street photography along the way. Venturing into the city’s pubs and clubs, she captured portraits of 56 women from different local subcultures. Her searching culminated into a project called Visible Girls, which documents the various attitudes and attire of groups like the mods, punks, rockabillies, rastas, and others who defied mainstream sensibilities. The women appear confident and proud as they pose in groups of two outside of bathroom stalls and darkened street corners.

Visible Girls was a touring exhibition in the 1980s and 1990s, but eventually, Corbin lost touch with the women in her photos. Thanks to the power of social media, however, some of the women eventually started to resurface in Corbin’s life; BuzzFeed had published a collection of the images in 2014, and it was the catalyst for their reunion—many of “lost girls” were now found.

Finding the subjects was something that Corbin had always hoped for. “It was a bit of a dream that I had,” Corbin explained. “I did try to do it in 1991 but I couldn’t find any of them. All the numbers had changed or they’d moved away, so I let it go dormant for about 25 years.”

Since making contact, Corbin has interviewed and rephotographed many of the women as they are now—and even facilitated gatherings between friends who have lost touch. “So they’re now reconnected through the Visible Girls project, which in a way is what it’s all about,” Corbin reports. “You know, rekindling those old friendships, those strong bonds of young women, that idea of ‘me and her against the world.'”

With the fantastic development in Visible Girls, Corbin launched an exhibition that marks its progress. Called Visible Girls: Revisited, it features then and now photos of the women along with recordings and interviews from both 1981 and the present. It will open at the Phoenix Gallery in Exeter from Friday, November 17 to Thursday, December 21, 2017.

As of now, not all the women from the project have been found. If you're one of them, Corbin invites you to contact her to help complete Visible Girls: Revisited.

In 1980, Anita Corbin trekked around London documenting the women of different subcultures through street photography.

Street Photography by Anita Corbin

Quasi and Squasher

Street Photography London Subcultures

Laura and Janet

Called Visible Girls, she eventually lost touch with the women in the project.

Street Photography London Subcultures

Charmaine and Janice

But thanks to the power of social media, Corbin has been reunited with some of the subjects from long ago.

Street Photography London Subcultures

Claire and Sarah

She's snapping their portraits again for then and now photos called Visible Girls: Revisited.

Street Photography London Subcultures

Helen and Emma

Then and Now Photos by Anita Corbin

Helen and Emma

Street Photography London Subcultures

Ann and Char

Then and Now Photos by Anita Corbin


Corbin is still looking for more of the women in her project.

Then and Now Photos by Anita Corbin

Nicole and Sue

Visible Girls: Revisited is now an exhibition. It opens at the Phoenix Gallery in Exeter, England starting November 17, 2017.

Visible Girls by Anita CorbinVisible Girls by Anita CorbinVisible Girls Revisited: WebsiteInstagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Anita Corbin.

Related Articles:

Then and Now Photos Show People as Young Adults and at 100 Years Old

Photographer Spends 10 Years Giving a Voice and Face to Subcultures Around the World

12 Adorable Then and Now Photos of Pets and Their Owners

Portraits of Girls at Age 15 and 20 Reveal How Much They Change in Just 5 Years

Man Tracks Down People He Photographed in the Street 40 Years Ago to Recreate Their Pictures

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content