Our third instalment of My Community, is with Jay McLaughlin, a British fashion photographer based in Bow, East London.

With a keen interest in photography from a young age, it’s no surprise that Jay has gone on to be a successful freelance photographer for over 11 years. Within six months of pursuing photography after initially choosing to study graphic design, Jay had secured his first magazine cover, leading him on to shoot for national magazines and travel the the world. Jay’s work has been published internationally, and working with clients such Harper’s Bazaar, Topshop and Vogue, he certainly has some incredible stories to tell.

Jay moved to Bow in 2012, just before the London Olympics, and says it’s one of the best decisions he’s ever made. So we couldn’t want to find out more about his favourite places in London.

Where did you grow up and what influence did it have on your photography?

I grew up in the Buckinghamshire countryside, which has given me a much more laid back vibe compared to the people I know who were brought up in the city. Additionally, because my parents both worked for an Airline, I got to travel the world and see some amazing places, so I have a broad respect for a variety of different cultures.

How has your community shaped your work now?

Community is everything to me. I’m a huge fan of coffee shop culture, and prefer working in a vibrant buzzy atmosphere when editing or responding to emails. My favourite coffee place is a few doors from where I live in East London, and because of the staff, it’s like a second home. When I need some quiet time, I’m super lucky to be close to Victoria Park and the canal system, which gives me a hit of nature with it’s wildlife and green spaces.

My Community Is Bow - Jay McLaughlin

What is your proudest achievement to date?

This is a really tough question to answer, because more often than not, I’m looking ahead rather than behind. I would say that getting my degree was a big deal, not because of how I feel about it, but how proud my mum and dad looked on my graduation day.

Who/what influences you?

I’m literally influenced by everything and everyone around me, like a sponge! There are some photographers I love, however, such as Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon, and Fan Ho. I think it’s important to be open to new ideas and concepts that you may not have considered. It helps you grow. Moving to East London from the country has definitely made me a more well rounded person.

My Community Is Bow - Jay McLaughlin

Where would you recommend to anyone to visit in London?

If you’re visiting London, get away from the tourist spots. Sure they’re beautiful, and well worth seeing, but London has so much more to offer. There are so many little pockets of culture right throughout the city, meaning there’s literally something for everyone. A good place to start is by taking a stroll through the various different markets, like Borough, Brick Lane, Columbia Road and Portobello Road.

Where are your favourite places to eat and drink in London?

London is amazing for food! If you’re a meat eater, check out places like Flatiron or Smokestak. If you like more al fresco dining, the street food scene in London is amazing right now. There’s so much choice and variety available and I’d argue that some of the offerings you can find in the markets is better than you’ll get under any roof. The hardest part is choosing what you want!

My Community Is Bow - Jay McLaughlin

Where to find Jay


About My Community Is…

When it comes to culture, London competes on a global scale. The UK’s capital is bursting with exciting things to see and interesting people to meet. It is no surprise given the incredible talent that can be found across every borough.

So the team at ideal flatmate wanted to meet the creative individuals producing some of the best work. We wanted to understand the significant role a person’s environment has on influencing their work, and at the same time, showcase the fantastic things they are producing.