Updated: Feb 14
This photography portfolio project has been a very enriching experience, both in terms of the skills I have learned along the way but also in helping me to get to know Edinburgh better and having a better appreciation of urban issues.
When I began this project, my intention was very clear: to identify and capture contrasts within the City that highlight on the tension between development and urbanisation in Edinburgh. I had in mind already a few scenes, such as the development of the St. James centre and its impact on neighbouring area and the contrast in architecture between old and new buildings. I discovered very quickly however that, as important as these were, they were not necessarily the central piece of the project. Pieces of the puzzle, certainly, but not enough to paint a clear picture.
50 pictures later, I have realised that actually, the tension between urbanisation and conservation was better expressed in chance shots than planned ones. Photography is of course about capturing a moment at a given time and a given place so no two photographs will be the same. Nevertheless, it was fascinating to notice that most of scenes that I was drawn to were the fleeting ones, i.e not just the contrast between the old and new buildings but instead instants that would vanish a few seconds later.
I think that there are two reasons for this:
· Fleeting moments that, in some ways, are great at telling the story. It is a snapshot of a moment that will not be repeated.
· Fleeting moments are more vivid, and therefore I think capture the questions of identity and tensions within a city even more powerfully.
Another benefit of those fleeting moments is that it has brought a lot of diversity into the photography portfolio, and brings to the fore a range of issues that I had not considered at the start of the project. For example:
· The impact architecture and buildings, old and new, have on the identity of the City.
· Mobility within the city, including for citizens with reduced mobility
· Developments encroaching on green spaces and vice-versa.
· Events in the city and tourism
· Community activism towards developments
· The place of wildlife in cities
· Pollution – physical and light
· Green spaces and impacts on mental health
In covering these issues around different parts of the city and looking deeper into them, I feel that I have gotten to know Edinburgh better. I am no closer to suggesting solutions or holding a particular point of view on the issues themselves – i.e. leaning more towards conservation or development – as I can see the argument on both sides. And this was not the aim of the project in any case.
However, what I am hoping this photography portfolio does, is add to the current discussion on these issues by highlighting what’s important to people, what is the impact of initiatives (on both sides) and trying to find an accommodating middle ground of benefits to citizens and business and respects the City's heritage and green spaces. But this is of course easier said than done.
To finish, I would like to express my gratitude to Creative Scotland and the National Lottery for supporting this project, without which it would not have taken place.
And, of course, thank family and friends for their support, views and feedback along the way.