Final Major Project · Research

The Beginning of the End

This week I started back at uni for my final year studying photography at the University of Huddersfield. After only 2 days being back I already have a ton of stuff to research and start thinking about in regards to my Final Major Project and dissertation. It seems crazy that in only 8 months time all my work for this year will be handed in and my time at university will finally be coming to an end! In the meantime though, there’s so much to do and to start things off I decided to write a quick post about a few ideas I’m playing with for my FMP.

My initial idea was to photograph landscapes that people know as being natural beauty spots – views that are ever popular with tourists and more than likely will appear on thousands of postcards all over the country for people to admire and send to family and friends in a ‘wish you were here’ type gesture. However, my twist was that the landscapes I was going to photograph were not actually as natural as first assumed.

For example, I live in the Lake District which is always popular with tourists at any time of year. Many people visit the area to appreciate the natural beauty and a favourite activity for those interested in hiking is to walk the Wainwright Fells which give access to some of the most spectacular views for miles around. I recently took on the challenge of walking all 214 Wainwright’s and in the process I have visited some amazing places – one of my favourites was Raven Crag. This walk takes you up the rocky edges surrounding Thirlmere, one of the 16 main bodies of water in the Lake District. At the summit of Raven Crag you are greeted with unbelievable views down the lake and the surrounding mountains, it is truly spectacular. Here’s a photo from my walk up there:

View of Thirlmere from the top of Raven Crag
View of Thirlmere from the top of Raven Crag

Now this may look like your typical view of picturesque natural scenery, but the lake isn’t actually natural at all. Thirlmere is a man made reservoir created in the late 19th century, made to transport water to places as far away as Manchester. With this topic in mind I wanted to play with this idea of what natural beauty is and how the rise in the tourism industry and the expansion of towns and cities has lead to a change in landscapes, which brings us to the question: is any land truly natural any more?

However, after much deliberation I decided to change my idea slightly. Instead of photographing landscapes on their own and focusing on natural beauty as a topic, I decided I wanted to shoot people within the frame and play with the idea of man vs. nature. I researched some of my favourite photographers that I already follow on Instagram (Andy Best, Taylor Burk & Jody Macdonald) and came up with the idea of a project based on the sheer power of nature over humans. For centuries humans have had this obsession to own and control the land and from that obsession came the creation of things like National Parks and nature reserves where humans can control and manipulate nature to be more accessible and aesthetically pleasing to the public. But no matter how hard man tries to control nature, it will always be the more powerful force. My new idea will hopefully become a series of photographs showing the scale of the environment in comparison to a figure within the landscape. It still needs more research behind it but for now, I begin my journey to the end of final year with this small seed of a project…I hope you’ll follow me to see how the project grows!

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