The City and Popular Culture

The brief

Using a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 12 photographic images, put together a photo essay about any aspect of city culture. The photo essay must be accompanied by a written essay of around 2000 words contextualising your choice of imagery.

You will need

Some means of recording images. I don’t require you to spend a great deal of money achieving perfect picture quality, but the images must be up to the job – the low pixellation and limited field of vision in some mobile phone cameras, for example, might not be up to the requirements of the assignment, or to what you want to achieve (though other mobile phones would be perfect for the task). A throwaway camera (with a flash) would be entirely sufficient – though digital cameras obviously make re-shooting more economical, and image manipulation and presentation more straightforward.

What I’m looking for

I’ve called it a photo essay because, rather than looking for picture quality and your skills as photographers, I’m looking for the quality of your ideas. I want you to tell me a story about the city – to be documentarists of city life. Things I’m looking for include a good theme, care in selecting your images and the organisation of the pictures (do they tell a singular or multiple stories? Are there contradictions/juxtapositions between them?) You need to be clear about what you’re intending to do before you take any pictures, and be prepared to think about them once they’ve been taken.

The essay is a commentary on your photo essay, but I expect it to be a theorised commentary, rather than a description of what you did. That means engaging in detail with some of the ideas I’ve introduced over the 9 taught weeks of the module.I’ll be glad to discuss academic sources during the tutorial sessions you will have from week 7 of the module onwards, but you must then go and do some serious reading. For a 2000 word essay, I would expect an absolute minimum of 5 pieces of reading to have been used in detail – and by ‘reading’, I mean books, essays and journal articles, not Wikipedia or other non-peer reviewed sources.


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