Square Mile

In our earliest years we know a patch of ground in a detail we will never know anywhere again – site of discovery and putting names to things – people and places – working with difference and similitude – favourite places, places to avoid – neighbours and their habits, gestures and stories – textures, smells – also of play, imagination, experiment – finding the best location for doing things – creating worlds under our own control, fantasy landscapes.

(Professor Mike Pearson)


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.

Living in the same area for the majority of my life has given me great knowledge of my surroundings, summer days playing outside, walks to school, a stroll to the corner shop. These thoughts and memories all represent something that has remained a constant in my life, my surroundings. However as mentioned in my ‘Initial Thoughts’ post, I do not hold these memories personal to me, as they are shared with the majority of the people also within my surroundings. This made me think, what is close to me, the majority of the time remains a constant, and I see and associate memories with that not many other people do.

Taking that into consideration I began to look at other practitioners, I studied Keith Arnatt’s Walking the Dog project, which I found fascinating, however it didn’t quite run with my initial thoughts on how I wanted to tackle the brief. My real interest was with Gawain Bernard’s Tomorrow 6am, a personal study of his, recording the solitude of the morning and the ritual we all undertake as we progress through the morning.

This gave me inspiration and immediately the concept of using my family and objects I associate them with to fit my ‘Square Mile’ interpretation came to fruition.

In my Initial Thoughts post I explained how I wanted to compose the images, a dark background, with objects illuminated through careful applications of light. For the shoot I used a Canon 70D with a Canon EF 50 F/1.8 STM Lens mounted on a tripod. I used two strips of LED lights and tissue paper to help diffuse the light. The lens worked perfectly for this kind of photography, the f/1.8 allowed lots of light to enter the lens and picked up shadows and highlights as I wished. The shallow depth of field allowed me to also play around with bringing certain area into more or less focus.

I find the the top left image of my sister to be the best human picture of the lot, the positioning of light I think looks particularly effective. Two of the images are of nothing but the backdrop, they are without an object. However when paired with their neighbouring image you can begin to understand why. I feel I achieved what I set out to, when compared with my initial thoughts, I feel I stuck with my idea and adapted it based on my research. If I was to do the shoot again, I would try and cast a shadow over the blank canvas’ to give a those images more meaning.

My Square Mile project is an expression of elements very personal to me in my life. It is a representation of the things we all hold dear to us, and associate with each other. The piece also shows how even though your surroundings usually remain the same, there are changes that occur, like that of loosing family members, however objects and references make the memories of them live on.

Contact Sheet


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