BA Phot

Expressing your vision: Assignment 1, Square Mile

text history - image history - contact sheets - tutor feedback

Having learned how to create a gallery for Asg.3, I have retro-fitted it to the images for Asg.1 and Asg.2.

[1Aug20] This was redone with scenes from my childhood in course 3, I&P.

Make a series of six to twelve photographs in response to the concept of ‘The Square Mile’. Use this as an opportunity to take a fresh and experimental look at your surroundings. You may wish to re-trace places you know very well, examining how they might have changed; or, particularly if you’re in a new environment, you may wish to use photography to explore your new surroundings and meet some of the people around you. OCA, Photography 1: Expressing your Vision, p.14

Required: a written analysis (max 500 words) including (a) first thoughts on the assignment; (b) how the ideas developed; (c) sources of inspiration and their effect; (d) description of technical approach and techniques deployed; (e) analysis of the "strengths and weaknesses" of the photographs submitted; (f) consideration of how the project could be developed.

The Square Mile refers to a Welsh notion of "Y Filltir Sgwar", the connection between an individual and their local surroundings.

First Thoughts

Although Welsh by birth, I did not regard myself as susceptible to Square Mile Syndrome, particularly as regards Wales, though I may have changed my mind while working on the assignment.

I have lived in Eltham, a south east London commuter town, for most of the last thirty years. Apart from the clichéd contrast between the medieval splendour of Eltham Palace and the dour housing estate a mile away where Stephen Lawrence was murdered, there is little of interest to photograph, celebrate or become attached to in Eltham. Its key quality is its proximity to central London and that is what I have explored in this Assignment: landmarks visible on a commuter's journey from Eltham to London Charing Cross.

1 / 7
2 / 7
3 / 7
4 /7
5 / 7
6 / 7
7 / 7

1. New Eltham Station
2. Kidbroooke
3. Blackheath - Canary Wharf
4. Lewisham
5. London Bridge - Tower Bridge and City Hall
6. Waterloo East - South Bank
7. Charing Cross - St Martin in the Fields [†]

New Eltham Station
New Eltham Station
Kidbroooke 'Village'
Kidbroooke "Village"
Blackheath - Canary Wharf
Blackheath - Canary Wharf
London Bridge - Tower Bridge and City Hall
London Bridge - Tower Bridge and City Hall
Waterloo East - South Bank
Waterloo East - South Bank
Charing Cross - St Martin in the Fields
Charing Cross - St Martin in the Fields [†]

Inspiration & Development

I was not particularly enthused by the examples given in the course material. They, quite appropriately, embrace the Square Mile ethos that I had rather set my mind against. The "commuter town" concept was already in place when I recalled an article in an RPS Journal [1] on a Distinction panel by Robert Friel, a daily commuter.

Technical approach

Starting this course has forced me to reassess and begin to change my working practices. As noted in the blog [2] I normally post-process images significantly and that goes against the assignment instructions [3].

The requirement to submit contact sheets has also had an effect. I am taking fewer pictures and deleting in-camera in order to reduce the size of the contact sheets.

The general technical approach for the various outings undertaken and applied to particular images are explored in some detail on the web site [4].

Strengths and weaknesses

As noted in the blog [5], I mostly photograph sculpture and street art in galleries or towns: these projects are self-limiting and impose their own structure. I am not used to conceptualising a display. On an individual basis I consider the images to be adequate and some (Canary Wharf [6], Tower Bridge and St Martin) of merit, but they are not cohesive.


Daidõ Moriyama has stated, "As I get older with the camera in my hand, I realize that all the different things that I depict in my photographs are ultimately rooted in my childhood memories, the various things I have seen and experienced in the postwar years of the early 1950s." [7]

When next in Wales, I will photograph my Filltir Sgwar, likely to comprise:
(i and ii) my family home (recently sold) and my grandmother's house ;
(iii) my infants and junior school (demolished several years ago and a vacant building plot last time I saw it);
(iv and v) the junior and senior high schools (grammar schools were abolished the year I first attended);
(vi) the church where I was taken more often than I liked until a youthful rebellion.

I have an idea for a local project (although this could be undertaken equally well in any suburban environment): Eltham churches and congregations - photographed when leaving after Sunday morning services.


[1] The article is reproduced on the RPS web site, [accessed 16th July 2018].
[2] Blog entry 22nd June, [accessed 16th July 2018].
[3] Expressing your Vision (2017), Course Material, p.13, OCA, Barnsley.
[4] Assignment 1, Square Mile - images, [accessed 16th July 2018].
[5] Blog entry 14th July, [accessed 16th July 2018].
[6] The Guardian 20th July 2018, from the BBC, [accessed 20th July 2018].
[7] Record No. 38 (2018), Daido Moriyama, Akio Nagasawa Publishing, Tokyo, Japan.

The Guardian 20th July 2018
The Guardian 20th July 2018

[†] The choice of this image and its processing is discussed here in the response to the tutor's feedback.

Page created 17-Jul-2018 | Page updated 24-Sep-2018