When the sun goes down, London dramatically transforms into stomping grounds for a dark and brooding cast of characters. There to capture all the action in every moonlit corner is street photographer Edo Zollo. We caught up with Edo to ask him about his techniques and approach to shooting street photography at night. Scroll down to get tips, and see some of his thought-provoking and arresting work.

500px: Hi Ed! Can you tell us how you discovered photography?
I’m Edo Zollo, an Italian photographer. I have been living in London for 13 years. My passion started at an early age, helping my photographer dad with lenses and films, playing with his cameras, and spending weekends at weddings taking pictures with him.

Edo Zollo at work in his studio

Edo Zollo at work in his studio

How would you describe your photography style?
As my work developed, I have become more interested in using photography to examine and challenge people’s perceptions of life, people, and events around us. A photograph can be a powerful way to break down prejudices and change viewers’ points of view.

What are your favorite subjects to shoot?
London at night. I go out past bedtime, and catch the live of the night owls, the insomnias, and night workers.

What can we find in your camera bag?
You’ll need a Canon 5DII, 50mm lens, Hasselblad, 120m film, and chocolate digestive biscuits.

As a documentary and street photographer, what are the qualities of a good photo for you?
Composition, point of focus, and subject. A picture needs to say a story. Generally, my photos are dark, haunting, and show another side of the city.

As a documentary photographer, can you share some tips on how to photograph strangers? Do you have any tricks or tactics on how to approach them?
First of all, turn off your AF assistant light. This will give you away immediately. Also, turn off your camera sound or beep. All the modern cameras have this annoying beeping sound when you shoot that can be heard from quite far away, especially late at night when it is so quiet. Wear dark clothes and comfortable shoes. Be invisible, and be ready to run if you have to. Don’t remain in the same place for too long, especially at night—you will be regarded as a “suspicious” person. Finally, never make eye contact with your subjects, especially at night. They will immediately know that you are taking a photo of them.

How do you give your photos that dark and moody look?
I always try to shoot people standing still. When it’s dark, there is not usually enough light around for a fast shoot. Therefore, in order to get good sharp and focused subjects, look out for people standing still near street lamps, shop windows, and mobile and tablet users.

EDO (continued): Taking photos with prime lens—any aperture slower than 2.8 and you are basically screwed. 2.8-1.8-1.4 are ideal lenses. These lenses allow your camera to catch as much as available lights around you. Finally, push your ISO to the limit! Between 800 to 1600, you should be fine.

A lot of your photographs are set in the city of London. What fascinates you the most about using this location for your work?
I’m originally from Italy. I’ve been living here for the last 13 years, and I have a love/hate relationship with London. Most of my photos are reflections of how I feel at that moment. Plus, I’m a night person. I hate getting up early in the morning. I’m a night owl!

Out of all your photos on 500px, which one would you say are you most proud of?
This photo I call, “The Youth.” I shot this in a skate area in South Bank, London at 1 a.m. I used a 50mm lens, and shot it at 1/60s, F2 with ISO 800. In January, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson quashed the Southbank’s plans to move the skatepark after 27,286 planning objections to the development were delivered to the Town Hall. It was the most unpopular application in history. As the Mayor said, this skatepark is the epicenter of U.K. skateboarding, and part of the cultural fabric of London.

EDO (continued): It adds to the vibrancy of the area, and helps make London the great city that it is. I decided to go there, and wait for the right composition. As you can see from the photo, I was standing right in front of the big wall, and waiting for the right subjects to come into the frame. I knew the light and location was great, I was just waiting for the right subjects. I felt really excited as I was shooting this. I felt I was making something really good!

Any upcoming projects in the works for you?
I’m currently working on my first photography book! It will be a fine selection of my best night shoots. I want to show a different side of this beautiful city—known to millions of people for its architecture, culture, and lifestyle, but less-known for its dark and haunted nights.

To see more of his work, follow Edo Zollo on 500px. You can also visit his official website, or connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Got questions for Edo about his work, gear, and technique, or have your own city after dark photos to share? Leave a comment below!