Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Photography 1: People and Place Assignment 5 (Rev)

Assignment 5: People and place, on assignment (Revised)

Original version can be found at 15/01/2013

As a result of comments from received from my tutor I have revised the blog entry for assignment 5.  The revised version is given below:

For this assignment I was required to create an imaginary brief from a notional client and then to carry out the brief.  I chose to create a brief for a quality magazine such as the National Geographic.  The brief was to create a number of photographs to support an informational story of small town Britain.  The objective was to capture the character of small town Britain as a centre of commerce, services, culture and the values of a typical town.

I chose a city near to my home, Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire.  My reason for choosing the garden city of Welwyn was that it is a good example of a planned environment.  The city was founded in the 1920s by Sir Ebenezer Howard and was to combine the benefits of the city and the countryside and to avoid the disadvantages of both.

The brief that I created is given below:

Purpose:           To capture the character of small town/city Britain.  “High Street” as centre of commerce, services, culture and values of a typical town.

Subject:             Central business district of town or small city – include shops, bank, post office, church.


a. street level/pedestrian crossing                           d. with school, library

b. with small office building                                      e. with town hall

c. pedestrians/traffic light                                         f. with cars/traffic jam

Frame Shots:    Horizontal; Vertical; Wide; Medium; Close-up; Exteriors

Colour/B+W:     Colour

Lighting:            Available light

Include:             Trees, flowers, colourful awnings, church spire, shops: barber, hairdresser, pet shop, shoe repair, café, restaurant, large shop.

Ethnic:               Varied

Locale:              City/town

No. Images:       Create 12 good images from which I will recommend 8.

Avoid:                National brand-name shops, petrol stations, fast food logos, wires, dated posters.

Note:                  Ideal locations: bird’s-eye angle good (try for first or second story view), crossroads with shops, park, possible view of residential streets behind.  Show activity.  Need bustling, cheerful look.  Clear bright day, crisp colour.  Can remove signs with brand names in post processing.

Submit both low-resolution and high-resolution images.  Low‑resolution to allow for quick viewing on screen and emailing with the magazine’s offices.


In order to complete this assignment in accordance with the brief I needed a bright sunny day.  I waited until the forecast was favourable.  I was fortunate in that the forecast bright sunny day was a weekday and very cold.  This enabled me to photograph the shops and buildings without too many shoppers present.

I have found that there can be two images of a town or city, one that is filled with people shopping or meeting and the other that is predominately made up of the buildings of the city that are there to serve the people.  Graham Clarke in his book “The Photograph” writes, “the sheer density of the human presence threatens to overwhelm the camera as it seeks to image street-level experience”.  Alfred Stieglitz produced images of New York with no evidence of a human figure.  I wanted to concentrate on showing the buildings and shops of the city rather than the people living in it because I feel that it is a city's buildings that capture its character.  However I wanted to occasionally include some people in the images to add scale and life to the photographs.  I was successful in finding people who were busy going about their business and who did not take much notice of me.   It is often difficult to take photographs in public without drawing attention.  People are often very wary of being photographed in the street.  This is possibly a manifestation of a more generalised insecurity in society.

A difficulty that I was presented with when carrying out the assignment was the lack of traffic in the city.  Although I was taking the photographs on a busy weekday, the city’s road system works so well that traffic jams are a rarity during the week.

The twelve images produced for this assignment are shown below.  I have placed the eight images that I would recommend to the client at the beginning.

(3214) A street café with young and old people.
Italian style coffee bars are now common in the once traditional streets of the city.  The clients of the coffee bars are young city workers in the main, whilst the older generation avoid this style of establishment.

(3217) A Pet shop.
Small shops like this owner operated pet shop can still be found next to larger multi outlet stores.
(3219) A pedestrian crossing.
This pedestrian crossing is situated in the centre of the city.  It shows the abundance of green space available within the central commercial district.

(3236) A shoe repair shop.
The original streetscapes have changed little since their original design.  New chain stores have been fitted into the existing buildings.

(3246) Town Hall.
The imposing structure of the town hall is unique to the city.  Its architecture gives a feeling of the roots of the city.  Roots that are conservative, establishment and old school.
(3253a) View from a first floor restaurant.  The elevated level adds an extra dimension to the image.

(3255) Small office building.

(3259a) Traffic in the city centre.

(3234) Hairdressers shop.

(3248) A large shop.

(3257a) City library.

(3260) Church in the city centre.
Few traditional churches are to be found in the city centre due to the founding father's Quaker beliefs.  The architecture of the churches that are in the city was designed to blend in with the modern feel of the other buildings of the city.

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