Below are some of the photographers I looked at:
This was a series of articles by journalist Adolphe Smith and John Thomson, photographer and the book is regarded as a key work in the history of documentary photography. The book can be read online here This book is about people more than place and focussed more upon workers, the poor or destitute, but it does offer some views of a richer and/or healthier life as here.
“Altogether it will be seen that the commons and open spaces in and about London, are not merely useful in maintaining the health of the population, and as affording some space for recreation; but they also open out new fields of industry for those who earn their living out of doors. On the great holidays, the itinerant street vendors crowd to the Common, and are able to breathe fresh air while still pursuing their ordinary avocations.”
A1: The Great North Road A documentary series on the life and landscape of this road – created during 1981 and 1982 and providing a picture of life in the 1980s. He used colour photographs here which was a move away from the more traditional black and white. We have continuing discussions on online forums and in Thames Valley group about choices between colour and black and white. At the moment my view is that if it’s about people then in black and white they become more representatives of other people in similar situations, places, ages etc. In colour they are individual personalities. With landscape I’m thinking that black and white landscapes in contemporary photography highlight shape, form, structure, layers of living that are like a fingerprint of the land.
His series Troubled Land(1985-86) fuses traditional landscape and war reportage – what seem to be ordinary urban landscapes morph into something else with a closer look. I visited his Exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in May 2011 and wrote about it here and at the time I commented on how I gained a sense of him being an observer, not connected with his subjects.
Graham’s series The Present (2012) comes from the streets of New York which serve as a stage as people come and go in doubled moments – two images taken from the same location with only a brief moment between them.
Takes me back to Tacita Dean and her views on Landscape – is this street photography, documentary, landscape photography? I could stand in several green spaces and take such photographs; in moments of time the people might change but would the landscape? It could suddenly rain, the sun could come out, a rainbow might appear – hmmmm.
National Property: The Picturesque Imperfect (2014) a series exploring the usage of landscapes in private/quasi-public hands and “how that frames shared experiences of place, a sense of cultural belonging, and the various ways this is claimed in the ways people conduct themselves, and in the company they keep.”
He travelled around the country photographing spaces and places owned on behalf of the nation and capturing ways in which visitors interacted with the landscape. “Presenting an alternative viewpoint to the pastoral idyll, Roberts highlights our shared and sometimes imperfect experience of the landscape, inviting wider questions about private ownership and public usage of land”. Reading that sentence on the Flowers Gallery website I thought how relevant this is to what’s happening in the area where I live. There has been outcry over Surrey County Council’s decision to charge for parking at the car parks on Chobham Common and other Commons and Parks (see here) with parking meters damaged and Petitions raised. I can see both sides of what’s a complicated issue.
Here Roberts conflates the traditional approach to landscape with social documentary, “layering ideas of national character through relationships to both place and particular moments in time. This book was released in 2017 after the Brexit Referendum.
I follow Jonathan Goldberg on Instagram having looked at his Project: The Runway Stops Here which documents Grow Heathrow – an eco-village which was set up in an abandoned market garden in 2010 as a direct protest against the extension of Heathrow Airport. The community is flanked by the runway on one side and on the other by a Holiday Inn, with 25 residents living in homes they have put together using low-impact methods see here and here . Goldberg first visited in 2011 and his photographs “highlight the intrinsic qualities of a community of people that have chosen a sustainable way of life based on shared values, away from conventional infrastructures”. His images show the positives as well as the difficulties, including having to live under the threat of eviction at a time when a third runway was backed by Parliament in June this year.
A really interesting project – low-impact community living for an alternative life in opposition to the expansion of a commercial airport. I’m not saying I would like to live in such a way, especially at my time of life, but I admire their aims and dedication to their cause. Goldberg’s series was Exhibited during 2017 in the Exhibition Off the Beaten Track: A Glimpse Inside Low-Impact Community Living at Oriel Colwyn Gallery, Wales . He exhibited alongside Amanda Jackson, whose series To Build A Home (2013) is based on the Lammas Eco Village, at Tir y Gafel and the surrounding community.
Two photographs where social contrasts are present within a single image
I only have one at the moment which is one of mine taken in a small square in London.
I’ll add another when I come across it.