Exercise 5.3: ‘Journey’ Page 112

Exercise 5.3: ‘Journey’ Page 112


Your journey may not involve travelling the world or an excursion across Russia. You might see your journey to the post office every Monday as particularly relevant – or the journey from your bed to the kitchen in the morning. Note the journeys you go on regularly and reflect upon them.

Now photograph them. Remember to aim for consistency in your pictures. If you choose to photograph all the charity shops you’ve visited in a week, try to photograph them all using the same camera, lens, standing position, lighting, etc. This will help keep your project honed to the subject matter rather than you, the photographer.


I have decided to photograph my journey to the toilet at my surgery. My morning surgery is from 8.30 to 12.30 pm with one or two toilet breaks. They are often rushed but important as I normally get a cup of coffee then.

Working in general practice has become ‘silo’ working where I am a ‘slave’ to my room and computer that issues orders and tasks about who to see or call or make a judgement about a blood test or X-ray or something else. It is a pressurised environment which increasing think is ‘institutional abuse, which is endemic in public sector working:’ Karl Marx would definitely see it as oppression by the state and exploitation of the workers. That is what I feel and I suspect that an increasing number of my peers feel the same; 3/4 of GP have mild or severe issues with workload stress. Perhaps that is why having a break is so important. Normally I work with 9 doctors and 5 nurses all working at the same time, but in this satellite clinic there are only 3-4 of us which makes it a much quieter environment.

I could not tell you what is on the walls on the way to the toilet and hot water source. I am normally thinking about work related issues and meetings when I walk in and out. I will notice things this time.

I took my camera to work and decided to take images about my journey during and after a surgery. I only left my room twice in four hours – both times were to go to the toilet. My main feelings that this was a building without soul; cool, clinical and empty for most of the time I was there. Apart from one person I was working with, and the 15 patients I saw, and the porter later on when leaving, I was ‘on my own’  and in business mode.

Here are some preliminary shots then an edit which is followed by a story that I have constructed to illustrate my journey.

Journey toilet-1

Surgery journey 1

Journey toilet-2

Surgery Journey 2


Series: ‘Silo working’

Here are my final images and notes on why I have shot or chosen them.

Jouney jpegs-1

This is my view from my consulting chair. It is surprising how often the chair is empty and I am on my own in this room. These are the chairs that will be occupied and suggest anticipation or loss or for me, respite as I attend to my other partner who is on an Internet Cloud and demands my attention.

Jouney jpegs-13

This is another view from my consulting room chair. I chose it because it is bland with medical signs which presage activity but are still at the moment. The window is beckoning me too – the outside shining in.

Jouney jpegs-15

I really like this image as it is minimal and ambiguous. It is the blind over a window with the opening handle visible. It suggests containment, obscurity, isolation and the possibility of freedom and new openings

Jouney jpegs-2

This is the door I can see from my desk together with the security keys. I want to go out of that door and have a break and not be ‘locked in’ and restrained in a hot room for 4 hours. It is a metaphor for being a GP nowadays – forced labour.

Jouney jpegs-4

Liberation to the empty corridor on the way to the toilet. The striking thing is that is NO ONE around at all apart from me and hidden away and admin person. It is soulless and clinical but quite bright and well lit.

Jouney jpegs-7

I focussed on these lights which look like space ships and suggest and alien environment


Jouney jpegs-21

Self portrait in the toilet. It is quiet and calm and cool – I am not accessible here and glad about it. I am still in a clinical environment with the tiles and baby changing fold down plastic on the wall but in my mind I have escaped my silo and am thinking about getting a cup of tea.

Jouney jpegs-6

This is a metaphor about soiling and cleansing. I wash my hands at least 50 times a day. It is surprising how quickly the pristine paper is wet and then discarded. It speaks to me of some the the things that I hear or see in my consulting room from patients and about healing of some of these issues. I work with very toxic and demanding patients in my work and sometimes that rubs off and needs to be washed away.

Jouney jpegs-19

This a metaphor for being trapped. These are bars on the windows of this health centre which is in a deprived area. They are not there to keep people out but to keep us in.

Jouney jpegs-20

This a typical NHS health centre courtyard where there is nothing – it’s aim is to let in light. The view inside is sterile and also that fabricated view outside.

Jouney jpegs-5

These words are open to interpretation.

I think that the more ambiguous images work best as they leave the viewer to image what they speak about. It is back to the chapter in Charlotte Cotton’s book about ‘Photographing nothing’ – that ‘nothing’ can speak a lot more than a complex tableau. So to edit to a final series with these limited images this would be it.

Series 2: ‘Trapped’

Jouney jpegs-1

Jouney jpegs-13Jouney jpegs-15Jouney jpegs-16Jouney jpegs-19Jouney jpegs-6Jouney jpegs-5