Assignment 1,  Learning Log,  Reflection

The Square Mile – 1st idea

My initial thoughts for The Square Mile focussed around a portraiture project; shooting portraits of neighbours and those living and working close to me.

I have lived in my house for 13 years now, and have lived in the same suburb of Norwich for most of my life. My parents live around the corner and I use local businesses where possible. Most of my neighbours have lived here for at least ten years.

As a result I see the same faces doing the same things most days. These people are what, to me, makes this little part of the world feel like home. I wanted to document these.

Some of the ideas for portraits I had where;

  • Simon, next door, heading off on his bicycle to work.
  • Sandy, the neighbour the otherside, through the hedge and plants as we hold most of our conversations
  • Geoffrey, the house opposite, cleaning his car or cutting his hedge come rain or shine on the day he always completes those tasks.
  • Alan, my husband, putting the kids to bed and reading their bed time story.
  • Unknown name, delivery driver. Our Amazon driver who visits most weeks but who’s name I don’t know.
  • Ally, my personal trainer. Working from her home studio a couple of roads away.
  • Mum, at home on the sofa at their home a few doors up from Ally, either knitting or reading her Kindle
  • Dad, in the garage. Rebuilding his classic car or working on my own that we’ve been restoring for years.
  • Unknown, shop keepers. Those working at the local shops who I see regularly but don’t know.

I really like the idea of this series of environmental portraits. I’m unsure whether this would work better as a series of the subjects were facing the camera, or in a more documentary approach, capturing them unaware of the camera “in their natural habitat”. Maybe I could shoot both.

I then discounted this idea as the logistics felt unfeasible. I didn’t know how best to approach the subjects, especially those I don’t actually know.

Unable to put the idea to bed I wondered about doing a series of portraits of all my extended neighbours, all within their homes on my street, which is one 1km loop. I am a member of a very active Facebook group community for those of us living in the avenue and thought this would be an idea start point. However I could also see this idea growing to be a huge piece of work, turning into almost a mini Humans of New York project. I’ve always fancied doing this as a project for Norwich but felt even just my local suburb might be too much for this particular assignment.

Around the time of thinking how to begin this project, the current covid-19 pandemic began. It soon became quickly apparent that in these circumstances photographing people in their homes would not be possible. I’ve resisted the urge to take this even further by wanting to document how my neighbours are handling the pandemic, and so have shelved this idea before even picking up my camera.

The desire to shoot a project along these lines is great, so maybe I will file this as “one to come back to” if a future assignment allows.

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