Like Charlie Phillips, Mayne was a self-taught photographer, but came from a very different background. He originally hailed from Cambridge and became acquainted with the work of celebrated photographers such as Walker Evans, Paul Strand and Henri Cartier-Bresson during his studies in chemistry at Oxford University. He is now one of the best known British social documentary photographers of the twentieth century. Mayne’s pictures of North Kensington form an interesting juxtaposition with Phillips’ both documenting the economic and social changes in post-war London.
Unlike Phillips, Mayne experienced life in North Kensington from the point of view of an outsider. He stated at the time that “my reason for photographing the poor streets is that I love them and the life on them (I am concerned here with what I see: for the moment it is irrelevant that most of the houses have no baths and that their structure is endangered by disrepair). Empty, the streets have their own kind of beauty, a kind of decaying splendour and always great atmosphere.”