52 by 52 8:02am, 26 July 2012
Challenge #48: Take a photograph of an event. Focus on putting it in the context of the landscape and those watching.
— Simon Roberts

Simon adds “Consider taking it from an elevated position so you're able to open up the mid-ground of the photograph, giving a greater depth to the image.”

We English

"Simon Roberts travelled across England in a motorhome between 2007 and 2008 for this portfolio of large-format tableaux photographs of the English at leisure. We English builds on his first major body of work, Motherland (2005), with the same themes of identity, memory and belonging resonating throughout. Photographing ordinary people engaged in diverse pastimes, Roberts aims to show a populace with a profound attachment to its local environment and homeland. He explores the notion that nationhood – that what it means to be English – is to be found on the surface of contemporary life, encapsulated by banal pastimes and everyday leisure activities. The resulting images are an intentionally lyrical rendering of a pastoral England, where Roberts finds beauty in the mundane and in the exploration of the relationship between people and place, and of our connections to the landscapes around us."

“We English, the title of Roberts’ engrossing exhibition of large-scale color photographs (and the related book) might lead you to expect gently satiric social studies in the style of Martin Parr. But the focus of the work is primarily landscape, and several of the images are broad, handsome vistas with only a few people scattered about the terrain. Even the photographs that include larger groups were taken from a distance – a perspective that echoes classical painting, although the subjects are decidedly contemporary.”
– Vince Aletti, The New Yorker, 2009

View more of Simon Roberts' work >

As well as being a good place to connect with other members and share your initial reactions, thoughts about how to 'solve it' and any links you think might help the group, this can also be a good place to include any old photos you have that fit the challenge. We're looking forward to hearing your thoughts this week.

— 52 by 52 team
bart1eby 6 years ago
Excellent. I'm a big fan of Simon Robert's work and We English sits proudly, and I think quite appropriately, on my bookcase between Stephen Shore and some early Gursky. I'm looking forward to this challenge because I'm a big fan of this kind of work but I never feel I get the distribution of people in the landscape quite right (or they don't get it right for me...). Having seen on FB who was setting the brief yesterday I did get a couple of practice shots in...

teenage swimmers

mother and children

though in the latter case I suspect it's the last time my friend will ask me for a family portrait....

mmumfordsmith03 6 years ago
I like the darkness of these - they have the quality of a Gainsborough. Keep going!
david_gillett 6 years ago
It's almost a shame they're limbering up shots, the first one in particular seems to me to have a perfect balance between the landscape and the figures within it.

Although not taken from an elevated position or an event, Simon's work was foremost in my mind whilst taking these from a few weeks ago:

#46 by david_gillett

#45 by david_gillett

I'm off to a Baptism on the weekend so I'm hoping to sneak up the church tower and see if I can capture the crowd in their Sunday best spilling out after the service. Though nine times out of ten these best laid plans come to nothing!
Mark W Russell 6 years ago
This is a type of shot I have rarely taken, so an interesting challenge. Here are some archive shots that reflect my nearest previous attempts:-

Day at the seaside III

"Ah up me duck"


"Retail therapists 2" - Instruction #40  "It might all come together for a moment and then just as quickly it is gone." - Narelle Autio

Julia M Cameron PRO 6 years ago
Like Mark, not many shots in the archive and a very different approach from usual for me. The idea of going to an elevated position sounds fun in flat East Anglia...but there must be at least one or two accessible vantage points in norwich! It's Gay Pride Parade on Saturday...

Figures in the fog

Picnic lunch

Winterton 4
bart1eby Posted 6 years ago. Edited by bart1eby (member) 6 years ago
Love that first image, Julia and it's precisely what I mean with regards to the distribution of figures - it just seems so 'necessary' even though I suspect they could be placed differently whilst still generating the same 'effect'. Out of curiosity did you take more than one 'version' of this scene?

My own efforts took me to Teignmouth today where lacking anything more 'eventful' than the suddenly and finally seasonable weather i managed to forget that Simon Roberts had already shot the same pier -

1 comment


dacaccia Posted 6 years ago. Edited by dacaccia (member) 6 years ago
Oh, almost the same brief than in SPNC-2 #22 - of course, the London Olympics are starting. :))
Well, not everyone is living in or visiting London ... hopefully an event is taking place where one lives!

Funeral of Otto Habsburg 2011

Habsburg Funeral Vienna
Leripix Posted 6 years ago. Edited by Leripix (member) 6 years ago
So far my efforts have ended up with ant-like people but may post one with the larger ants. It is difficult to include a vista with discernible characters - though Bart1eby doesn't seem to have had that problem. The Teignmouth shots are just lovely.

A couple from the archive



Plenty of paragliding round here - but it's been far too windy since Thursday and the forecast is no better...happy days:)) Good luck everyone.
Neale Willis PRO 6 years ago
Great stuff – immensely enjoyed We English.
Some interesting pics on here so far, and @bart1eby: those pics certainly capture what appears an enjoyable family day

I wonder, would these meet the brief?
Flown past
Leripix 6 years ago
I know the people are there because I was there, but can anyone else tell?
Julia M Cameron PRO Posted 6 years ago. Edited by Julia M Cameron (admin) 6 years ago
Eleri, I love your teeny weeny people. They may be small, but they are perfectly formed and IMHO fit perfectly into the landscape and event criteria for the Challenge.

Ben, the figures in the fog was just the one shot. I was fearful of getting disorientated and lost!
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