Assignment 4 – Image and Text

Developing the Theme

I have been inspired by a poem on the coast created by Dr John Cooper Clarke for the National Trust to create a series on Place and its Identity, and to a lesser extent how people identify with the Place. I have an affinity with the coast, and to the environs of National Trust properties, and identify closely with them. Visits to the coast bring back memories of my childhood, but also of early married life, when we lived by the coast.

Nation’s Ode to the Coast

Dr John Cooper Clarke

A big fat sky and a thousand shrieks

The tide arrives and the timber creaks

A world away from the working week

Où est la vie nautique?

That’s where the sea comes in…

Dishevelled shells and shovelled sands,

Architecture all unplanned

A spade ‘n’ bucket wonderland 

A golden space, a Frisbee and

The kids and dogs can run and run

And not run in to anyone

Way out! Real gone!

That’s where the sea comes in…

Impervious to human speech, idle time and tidal reach

Some memories you can’t impeach

That’s where the sea comes in

A nice cuppa splosh and a round of toast

A cursory glance at the morning post

A pointless walk along the coast

That’s what floats my boat the most

That’s where the sea comes in…

Now, voyager – once resigned

Go forth to seek and find

The hazy days you left behind

Right there in the back of your mind

Where lucid dreams begin

With rolling dunes and rattling shale

The shoreline then a swollen sail

Picked out by a shimmering halo

That’s where the sea comes in…

Could this be luck by chance?

Eternity in a second glance

A universe beyond romance

That’s where the sea comes in…

Yeah, that’s where the sea comes in…

Technical Approach

I used my Fujifilm X100V with fixed 28mm (35mm equivalent) lens. I set ISO to the maximum 160 to match the conditions of the day, which also afforded me a reasonably high shutter speed.

All pictures were taken openly as I was not attempting to take candid shots.

Very little post-processing was carried out, other than my selection of film, in this case Fujifilm Classic Negative, to obtain a more classic film look, which in my mind helps the retro feel of childhood memories.

The pictures were taken across several different shoots, in different locations.

Body of Work

The images are perhaps a semi-literal interpretation of the spirit invoked by the poem. The coast can provide silence and solitude when faced with a large sky and sea. Add in seagulls’ shrieks and the silence disappears, but the image remains the same. Add in the seagulls themselves and we see interaction between bird and human, both observing the other, one out of curiosity, perhaps the other out of a desire for lunch.

Boats can be functional or a visual distraction, or simply cast aside, rotting away or a distraction. The series shows boats left largely for decoration for tourists, imaging that they are in a still functioning fishing harbour, even though the beach is full of people drinking tea, licking ice creams, eating hot dogs and shouting at their kids.

This is pretending to be a “real” coastline not some pure pleasure beach, but the two co-exist to some symbiotic advantage. Shop owners market shells, starfish alongside spades and buckets, but gone is the stick of rock with Blackpool running through it.

But the decay shows through, buildings for sale, buildings and people worn through, needing love and attention, remembering former glory. And in the end it doesn’t matter, for the coast draws us to it inexorably, locals and strangers alike, for pointless walks, for unhealthy snacks, but most of all, to take our mind away from the earthly humdrum and tedium of everyday life.


Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

(Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills)

The body of work above demonstrates sufficient technical control over the photographic process pre and post process. The body of work demonstrates some competency in visual awareness and composition.

Quality of Outcome

(Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, with discernment)

I am reasonably comfortable with the outcome and I feel that the images form a coherent series.

Demonstration of Creativity

(Imagination, experimentation, invention, personal voice)

There was the potential to be more abstract than I have been, but that would not have been consistent with my personal voice.


(Reflection & Research)

One photographer that provides some context for my series is Martin Parr, for example, from his Life’s a Beach. Two example images are shown below:

Parr’s work is different of course. I have used a moderate wide lens and my subjects are further away, whereas Parr has generally used a longer lens and focussed on an individual or small group of subjects. However, it was my intention to portray the place, not individual subjects.