Square Mile – Revisited

After reviewing my Tutors feedback, there were elements from my initial write-up that I naively overlooked. This is a new summary of my work ‘The Square Mile’. I have developed on my original submission to hopefully explain why certain images were chosen, as they do not follow many conventional traditions associated with the style.

I have chosen to change some of the images, as it’s place did not relate to the piece as well as I thought it had. I have altered the image of my sister to remain consistent in my approach. I have also removed two images, both previously were that of a blank canvas, insinuating the loss of a family member. However the use of contrast, tone and lighting accompanied with the object itself portrays that emotion.

Square Mile


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?  That most of the time remains a constant, What do I see and associate memories with that not many other people do?

These images are a combination of Portrait and Still Life practises, highlighting my family, the objects I associate with them and the link that represent them as people. I highlight the relationship between light and dark, and life and death.

After spending time researching different practitioners I began to focus on how I would use inspiration gained from them and apply it to my own work. My immediate interest sparked from the combination of Portrait and Still Life photography, captured elegantly by Gawain Bernard in 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. The use of reflecting portraits and still life images creates a visual relationship with viewer. Creating content with a strong narrative was a route I had to go down to ensure my images showcased my initial thoughts on the brief.

D.Bates suggests in ‘Photography: The Key Concepts (2016)’, that all portraits are made up of four key elements, the face, pose, clothing and location. He also goes into detail about how without a background, the picture removes potential social connotations. This is exactly why I chose to use a plain background, all social, geographical and personal contexts are removed and the focus is drawn solely on the person or object in front of the lens. I hope that using this technique the viewer is drawn to their own personal experiences, and ‘who’ rather than ‘what’ is in their square mile. Richard Avedon used the same approach when photographing his portraits, using a confrontational plain background, leaving the viewer no choice but to observe the subject

The forms of framing and lighting in the majority of the piece does not follow those traditionally associated with the genre. With exception that of the one showcasing the women, these do follow more conventional forms, in so far as the use of framing, being well-lit, and the subject looking down the lens, creating a tension which is designed to implicate the pressure I feel to achieve and succeed as my mother watches my life. My framing decisions with my Dad aim to reflect the side of his life that I barely see, as a working man I believe there is a side to his life, not within my ‘Square Mile’. The same framing decision was applied to the image of me, as there is a side to myself that I do not connect with the family.

This also relates to all of the still life images within this piece, each informal framing decision reflects a certain element of the past, present and future that I have never seen. The images of the family that compare with the objects creates a de-contextualised description, which in turn, coinsides with my interpretation of the brief. Pieter Claesz, Vanitas Still Life, 1630 has forms and traditions that compare similarly to my still like images. Again the restricted background draws your foveal view only to that of the objects, which in turn builds tension. The Pipes and Irish Guards Beret link closely to this work, , ‘Each one conveys a message of mortality. Memento mori – remember you must die.’


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