Street Photography around Camden

What we are learning

Digital street photography around Camden

by the Mary Ward Centre

“There was huge enthusiasm for the environment as a resource for the photographs.  They enjoyed putting what they had learnt about in the classroom into practise and felt inspired by the Camden night life.” - Mary Ward Centre

At the Mary Ward Centre we have a 32-student strong digital photography class for older Camden residents. This is run in partnership with North London Cares, a local charity introducing young professionals to their older neighbours so that both feel better connected to their community.

We value co-production, so the classes are often adapted according to the needs and wishes of participants. The digital photography class wanted to leave the classroom and go out into the streets to learn about street photography. So we did.

What we planned

In this one-off session, we planned to take students offsite to take photographs. We carried out a risk assessment for the session and we told all members of the class either in person, by mail or by email about the lesson plan to assess any individual risk. On the basis of our risk assessments we arranged a route that our photography outing would take. We all met at the centre. One member of staff remained at the venue while all other staff, teachers and volunteers accompanied the students on the outing.

What we expected

  • Getting out to do street photography would improve digital photography skills

  • An outing would deepen relationship between participants

  • The outing would give participants better knowledge of the wider community environment, perhaps they would learn about new places or facilities available to them

  • Co-production would keep people engaged in the class

  • We expected that people would stay together and keep to the route and keep safe

How it happened

There was huge enthusiasm for the environment as a resource for the photographs.  They enjoyed putting what they had learnt about in the classroom into practise and felt inspired by the Camden night life. The session was extremely popular! So much so that we learnt having an open door policy doesn’t always lend itself to this kind of session! 

What we’d do differently

People were given their iPads before they left the venue. In their excitement of taking photographs, they weren’t aware of the dangers of being in a public setting. This made it harder to keep the group together.  iPads only to be given out once whole group have reached the location for photos.

• Cap number of people attending event to lower number.

• Not allow people to stay at the venue – it is a group activity.

• Split larger class into smaller groups when out of the centre. One person went back to the centre on his own after getting lost without letting anyone know he was leaving the group (he had a mobile phone and was identified as safe after concern was raised).