Summer Assignment – ‘Britishness’

Posted on July 15, 2012



For this summer project we were all given a set of tasks to complete all revolving around the theme of ‘Britishness’.

We must generally photograph the subject of britishness, We must send a photograph to the university in the format of a postcard with the theme of britishness and lastly we must enter two competitions, these are:

Pentax: Meet Britain –

ESRC: Portraits of Britain –

However we are permitted to enter as many as we please.

To begin the project I decided to do a mind map, this took me a while ranging from about a week – a week and a half just walking around many different areas and asking many people’s opinion on the subject to see and gain new ideas and inspirations. I concluded this thought process with 5 main ideas. These were as follows:

Queuing, we ‘Brits’ are well known for this system as we are constantly queuing for everything and therefore I think that if I were to capture this subject correctly I could make it rather humorous.

Weather, this idea is an extensive one as there is so much to be done with it, of course its constantly raining here in Britain so why not make it something to laugh about and instead and have a topless man sunbathing in what is meant to be a sun filled summer.

“The British Night Out”, the idea of a British night out can only reflect our ‘hooliganism’ and the mischief we get up to with over-consumption of alcohol and so it came to mind that I could take a camera on a night out and photograph all the drunk people in a creative manner. OR I could photograph a traditional pub which would in my opinion be the more preferred choice of the two.

‘Fish & Chips’, need more be said than traditional British grub? Either that or a Sunday roast.

‘Product Change’, This idea is my favorite, whilst doing food shopping I can see so many products that have changed the design  for the spirit of britishness with this years (2012) Olympics around the corner how better can we display patriotic attributes than through our commercialism and this is something I wish to document myself.

THEN, I remembered, in going home to visit my parents for the summer, London is just up the road from me, a 45 minute journey even! So I thought what a fantastic opportunity, where else would I photograph ‘Britishness’ than the heart of it all?

To make this project harder for myself I decided to set myself a golden rule:

I AM NOT TO BE BORING, this means not photographing the typically expected landmarks.


I decided to do some research of those who have photographed rather British things or those that have photographed things reminding me of the subject and these people are:

Paul Reas, I was intrigued by his approach to the subject of the British culture focusing in the diversity in different ‘classes’ of people and how he has creatively taken the photo but what mainly interested me was how he brought a humor into it which is something that I would like to achieve within some of my own ideas.

Richard Billingham, he didn’t photograph the culture you could say but the way in which his photographs were composed and the decorations and objects used within the frame boasted a particular feel of britishness to me and so I have taken inspiration in the composition of surrounding objects from Billingham

John Gay, visiting the library I found a book he titled ‘Observing England’ and found myself inspired by some of his works, some of his photographs I will even be able to re-create myself on my visit to London!


It went well but I had needed to improve, really I used this photo shoot as a motivator to get me into the mindset of the task at hand and was not aimed at a particular idea of mine. I feel that I succeeded in getting motivated with some decent results. Here are my results for the shoot:

Tom Coghill Photography ‘Cogtography’ © All Rights Reserved

Posted in: University Work