Project Development – Notes

Figure 1: Phil Hill (June, 2020) Wais.
Figure 2: Phil Hill (July, 2020) Disused Rail, Watford.

In the description for my last WIPP submission I stated: “Watford, a commuter town between city and countryside.” I feel that I only really had half an awareness of what I meant by this in the sense that my focus on the work has been focused on the collection of portraits (Fig: 1), which I believe is one of my strengths however, potentially at the detriment of other elements of the project considered only secondary (Fig: 2). There needs to be a more focused development on these other images within the broader narrative of my work.

Alys Tomlinson has discussed that within her own investigations, the relationship between the people and the land that they inhabit is of fundamental importance, which is why she remain fixed to a location and explores within (2019). The link in the land to the people could start with investigating Watford as a commuter hub and also in its position between countryside and urban; at what point does the countryside become suburban, and then urban. I feel that it would be good to resolve the idea of a place between places; especially as we are undergoing some fundamental societal changes, which place different priorities on the commuter associations of Watford ad what Malcom Beynon et al refer to as ‘Rurality’ (2016), yet not something that necessarily quantifiable, as Weisheit et al note: “Like concepts such as “truth,” “beauty,” or “justice,” everyone knows the term rural, but no one can define the term very precisely” (1995, p. 6).

An area of research I am finding useful is in the agency of the object, or specifically the impact that the qualities of the object have on the construction and the reading of the image. My focus for the last module was in the portrait but also in the medium that I chose to create the work. I took special care to really consider the qualities of the black and white image and see how it has a fundamental impact on the outcome of the image. In my feedback, there was a question of ‘flatness’ in the presentation of the photographs, something which, I felt was reflective of the place that I am photographing however, something that I did not spend enough time discussing in my reflections. It would be useful to experiment with different methods of editing. I also made connection to the location of Watford through the use of design and colour of my zine, this can continue through the use of medium; I have been photographing on Kodak film, which had a significant presence in the area. Watford was also between two Kodak production sites in Hemel Hempstead and Harrow, continuing the link to the place and the idea of being in between.

My aim was to start drawing attention to the process of the photograph to somehow separate it from the sea of images and also create an awareness of it being photographed. Black and serves this purpose because of its contrast to the concrete world as we perceive it. The switch black and white also represents an opportunity to re-visit some of the initial work that I undertook to see if there are any locations that would be worth re-visiting. This would be useful research tool in order to re-consider anything overlooked previously.


Beynon, M., Cawley, A. & Munday, M., 2016. Measuring and Understanding the differences between urban and rural areas, a new approach for planners. Environment and Planning B. Urban Analytics and city Science, 43(6).

Tomlinson, A., 2019. The Messy Truth – Alys Tomlinson on Awards [Interview] (11 November 2019).

Weisheit, D. R. A., Wells, D. L. E. & Falcone, D. D. N., 1995. Crime and Policing in Rural and Small Town America: An overview of the issues, s.l.: National Institute of Justice.

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