Make a series of six to twelve photographs in response to the concept of ‘The Square Mile’. Use this to take a fresh and experimental look at your surroundings. You should try to make your final set of photographs ‘sit’ together as a series that complement one another and collectively communicate your idea.
However you choose to approach this assignment, it should communicate something about you: your interests, motivations, and your ambitions for your photography. Try to push yourself out of your comfort zone in terms of subject matter. Try out new approaches rather than sticking to what you think you’re most successful at.
I knew immediately that the area I would photograph would be that surrounding my home in rural Kent, where I have lived for nearly twenty years and where all four of my children were born and have grown up. My heart lies here and I truly love this place.
Here we are deep in The Garden of England. We are surrounded by farms, by cows and sheep, by woods, orchards and vineyards, by roadside stalls selling home-grown produce. What I am attempting to convey in this series of pictures is the land and its bounteousness in our little corner of Kent.
One of my main sources of inspiration was the work of Venetia Dearden. I love the way she captures rural life in Somerset Stories Fivepenny Dreams. I find her use of a limited colour palate really appealing and have tried to replicate that in my own set of images. I feel that this helps the pictures sit together as a series. With this in mind I also decided to take them all in a portrait orientation for consistency.
Something I really need to overcome is my fear of being ‘caught’ taking photographs in public. In the process of doing this assignment I forced myself to go uninvited to places like the local allotment where there was the potential for others to come and challenge me about what I was doing there. Much to my relief, far from being hostile, people seemed to be genuinely interested in what I was doing. This has greatly boosted my confidence and whilst never wishing to break the law, I hope I can be more bold in future!
The camera I used was a Canon 5D Mark IV. In order to get me out of my comfort zone I decided to shoot all the images in its Manual setting. This is not something I have a great deal of experience with and led to varying levels of success. However, I believe it was a useful exercise and will continue practising to get more consistent results in the future.
I’m not sure I have the expertise to state how good or otherwise my shots for this assignment are. I took hundreds of pictures in multiple locations and simply chose the ones that instinctively I liked best and felt fitted the brief.
Going forward, I think it would be interesting to continue shooting images for this series over the course of an entire year, thus incorporating all four seasons and the changes that occur over that period of time.