London Life: Photographer records the pivotal moments of the capital for nearly 70 years

The end of the London Trams. Thames Embankment - 1952

Since 1948, street photographer Colin O'Brien has been documenting the lives of Londoners, capturing often dramatic episodes which speak eloquently of change yet continuity in the daily existence of the city and its people.

Rather fascinatingly, he often records the final moments before some kind of transformation shakes the capital forever. From the closure of the market at Covent Garden and the last ever rag and bone man to the end of legal smoking in public places and the final days of Woolworths – O'Brien has an uncanny knack of photographing something before it's gone for good, never to be seen again.

It's through his urban images that he's able to share such decisive moments; that's whether they're very historical events or just simple narratives of everyday life. No matter how exciting or mundane the subject matter, everything he captures is poetic and beautiful, frozen in time for future generations to reflect upon.

Available in a book entitled London Life, O'Brien shares seven decades of his work in the capital. You can also discover more about him at www.colinobrien.co.uk.

Main image: The end of the London Trams. Thames Embankment - 1952

Former Rio Cinema, now demolished. Skinner St, Clerkenwell - 1952

Former Rio Cinema, now demolished. Skinner St, Clerkenwell - 1952

Victorian homes demolished. Clerkenwell Road - 1970s

Victorian homes demolished. Clerkenwell Road - 1970s

One of the last rag and bone men.  Hackney - early 1980s

One of the last rag and bone men. Hackney - early 1980s

The final days of Covent Garden market. Covent Garden - 1973

The final days of Covent Garden market. Covent Garden - 1973

The final days of Covent Garden market. Covent Garden - 1973

The final days of Covent Garden market. Covent Garden - 1973

Demolished building on Long Acre, Covent Garden - 1986

Demolished building on Long Acre, Covent Garden - 1986

Gasometers now long gone. King's Cross - 1974

Gasometers now long gone. King's Cross - 1974

Another long gone gasometer. Regent's Canal, Bethnal Green - 1987

Another long gone gasometer. Regent's Canal, Bethnal Green - 1987

The last day of the Routemaster buses on the 38 route. Clapton Pond, Hackney - 2005

The last day of the Routemaster buses on the 38 route. Clapton Pond, Hackney - 2005

Men sit after the last ever football match at Highbury Stadium before Arsenal move to the new Emirates Stadium. Highbury Corner - 2006

Men sit after the last ever football match at Highbury Stadium before Arsenal move to the new Emirates Stadium. Highbury Corner - 2006

Friends enjoy a final smoke indoors on the final day of legal smoking in public places. The Griffin, Shoreditch - 2007

Friends enjoy a final smoke indoors on the final day of legal smoking in public places. The Griffin, Shoreditch - 2007

Jim's Cafe before it closed after the proprietor died. Chatsworth Road, Hackney - 2008

Jim's Cafe before it closed after the proprietor died. Chatsworth Road, Hackney - 2008

The last day of trading at Woolworths. Mare Street, Hackney - 2009

The last day of trading at Woolworths. Mare Street, Hackney - 2009

A former shoe repair shop, now closed. Hackney - 2010

A former shoe repair shop, now closed. Hackney - 2010

Steve, the owner of a former shop he and his family ran for 50 years. Chatsworth Road, Hackney - 2010

Steve, the owner of a former shop he and his family ran for 50 years. Chatsworth Road, Hackney - 2010

Clerkenwell Fire Station, which closed after 142 years. Rosebery Avenue - 2014

Clerkenwell Fire Station, which closed after 142 years. Rosebery Avenue - 2014