People & Place

Rob Townsend's OCA Learning Log

Assignment 5: the brief – “Disappearing Britain”


I’ve decided on the subject of my Assignment 5 project and have given myself the following (entirely fictional) brief to work to:


The Guardian Weekend Magazine


This is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with a Guardian journalist on a medium-length (approx 4,000 words) article to be published in early 2015.

The article will be on the theme of “Disappearing Britain” and will be illustrated with an agreed number of appropriate photographs delivered as the outcome of this brief.


How aspects of life in Britain are becoming obsolete for reasons of progress, and how this is a part of the continual, gradual and vital change in national identity.

It is an exploration of the phenomenon of such progress making certain aspects of life obsolete within an observable timespan i.e. within a generation.

Working title

“Disappearing Britain” (alternatives: “Last Chance to See”; “The March of Progress”)


The article is intended to be (a) an analytical, thoughtful examination of how progress impacts on national identity, and (b) a celebration of iconic British design.

The article should evoke an overall sense of a changing ‘Britishness’.

However: it is NOT to be overly nostalgic, introspective and certainly not xenophobic.


Introduction: concept of progress naturally being both additive and subtractive; examples from earlier periods

Main body: 4-5 case studies of approx 500 words each, examining brief history of one item, reasons for obsolescence, how it’s being preserved, and so on

Conclusion: predictions for next wave of ‘disappearances’


The actual subjects have not been set in stone; you as photographer will produce a number of options to the following brief and you will collaborate with the writer to agree which 4-5 subjects are examined in the text.

Whilst the overall theme and messages of the article have been drafted in advance, the subjects themselves will to a large degree be determined by the images you provide.


Provide 8-10 images (4-5 will be selected) that meet the following criteria:

  • Common 10-20 years ago, rare now
  • Particular (though not necessarily unique) to Britain
  • Reason for obsolescence is one of following factors:
    • Technological progress (engineering, IT etc)
    • Economic progress (capitalism, globalisation, infrastructural etc)
    • Social progress (behavioural norms, demographic shifts etc)
  • A combination of subject types, such as (not limited to):
    • Public objects
    • Private objects
    • Professions

Produce images that are creative and visually engaging in composition and style – otherwise we could just go to a stock library! The article is as much about the images as the words.


High quality JPG or TIFF images, at least 3000px on long side

Will be used in print magazine and online

5 thoughts on “Assignment 5: the brief – “Disappearing Britain”

  1. Pingback: Assignment 5: progress so far | People & Place

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  4. Pingback: Assignment 5 research: cataloguing, memory, past, present, future | People & Place

  5. Pingback: Assignment 5: Disappearing Britain | People & Place

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