Assignment one (two sides of the story)

This assignment is to create two sets of photographs telling different versions of the same story in order to explore the convincing nature of documentary photography.

My first thoughts for this assignment drifted to common opposites; night and day, backs and fronts (inspired by Pickering’s series Public Order), dull and interesting, rich and poor, clean and dirty. From this I considered taking images to show each of the opposites. As an example I thought about taking images to suggest affluence in a local area (executive cars, desirable properties, art galleries) and then images to suggest deprivation (boarded up shops, ill maintained infrastructure). The aim would have been to persuade the viewers that this area was thriving as opposed to being underprivileged and vice versa. Clearly night and day wouldn’t work as I couldn’t convincingly argue that it is always night-time!

I particularly engaged with a previous exercise to take 30 images in colour and 30 in black and white and I kept returning to it in my mind and wanted to explore this in this assignment if possible. My work on that exercise can be seen here and was instrumental in shaping my decision to work in both formats for this assignment.

I decided to photograph the Dark Arches, Leeds. My first intention was to compare the sombre atmosphere with the remarkable Victorian engineering. I was going to capture images to show the area as menacing and contrast this with closer shots focusing on the curved bricks, the arches, rivets and detail. However, I found that my images were too similar and I realised that I don’t know enough about Victorian engineering.

So, I thought again. I liked my idea for my first set of images, showing the place as menacing, so I decided to contrast this with the redevelopment that has taken place recently to show the same place as welcoming.

The Dark Arches

Unwelcoming, unchanged and chilling

Leeds railway station straddles the River Aire by means of brick-built arches which raise the railway high above ground level, leaving the ‘Dark Arches’ accessible to the public at ground level.

The arches were synonymous with the serial killer, Peter Sutcliffe, and were an area of terror for women between 1975 and 1981. They remain little changed and are as unwelcoming and chilling as ever. They continue to evoke feelings of threat with their hidden corners, doorways, alcoves and the deep water of the River Aire.


The Dark Arches
The new railway access and unique social hub

Leeds railway station straddles the River Aire by means of brick-built arches which raise the railway high above ground level, leaving the ‘Dark Arches’ accessible to the public at ground level.

Gone are the days when women were afraid of the Arches; they  have been transformed into a vibrant social hub that compliments the Victorian architecture and exploits the arches’ potential. The Arches are now home to restaurants and shops and to a new  Railway entrance making this area of Leeds a busy and welcoming feature.


Contact sheets

Before I went on the shoot for the assignment proper, I went to check out the area and take a series of test snapshots just to get a feel for the way they may work. I took no regard to camera shake or composition particularly, just concentrating on the mood that I could capture. I have included a link to my first snapshots, as well as a link to my final annotated contact sheets.

Contact sheets assignment 1 (dark Arches) initial snapshots

Contact sheets Assignment 1 (Dark Arches) annotated


Bibliography (2017). Granary Wharf | Leeds stories. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Aug. 2017].


3 thoughts on “Assignment one (two sides of the story)

  1. I’ve enjoyed reading this Adele. A great series and i like how the black and white represent the emotions evoked by how the arches used to be. I know the area and the reputation it used to have.

    As a new photography student I have only used contact sheets twice. I like how you’ve written your thoughts on your contacts. It’s helpful to see how they can be used effectively.


    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my assignment. My previous tutor expected annotated contact sheets so I have just got in to the habit of providing them with my assignment submissions. Are you from the Leeds area?

      Liked by 1 person

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