OCA Level 3: Body of Work/Contextual Studies

Category: Hidden Stanley

Hidden Stanley: Image and Text – Further Experiments

Here are some experiments overlaying text directly onto the photograph:

Red text, Helvetica font, multiply blend mode, 12pt

Red text, Helvetica font, multiply blend mode, 30pt

Red text, Mono 45 Headline font, multiply blend mode, 120pt

White text, Helvetica font, screen blend mode, 12pt

Grey text, Mono 45 Headline, difference blend mode, 120pt

Hidden Stanley: Image and Text experiments

See:


Selecting an image for each of the 7 locations proved a simple process as I had limited myself to choosing from the set of analogue photographs. I liked the lo-fi quality of the Holga, but I did not have a useable image for ‘Sweet Shop Drug Den’ so that was ruled out, leaving me to choose from the images made from the 35mm camera.

I knew from beginning the project that text would be an integral part. I was faced with a number of presentation choices so experimented with the following:

  •  Text
    • Headlines
    • Concise captions
    • Synonyms
  • Text positioning
    • Caption below image
    • Directly onto the image
      • Size and font
      • Colour

Vigilante Paedophile hunters:

Alternative captions:

  • Moment paedophile hunters snared pervert
  • Convicted sex offender facing jail for sending explicit messages to teenage girls
  • Stanley man snared by paedophile hunter

Bus Station Fight:

Alternative captions:

  • Pepper spray used to disperse yobs who attacked police
  • Police mobbed by 100 youths throwing bricks and fireworks
  • Teenagers attack police in town centre disorder
  • 100 feral youths batter cops

Cannabis Farm:

Alternative captions:

  • Two arrested as police raid cannabis farm
  • Drugs raid in South Moor

Picnic Site Dogging:

Alternative captions:

  • Beauty spot sex site
  • Picnic site sex ‘disgusting’
  • Police warn ‘doggers’ of a clampdown

Swingers Club:

Alternative captions:

  • ‘Child’ spotted at swingers’ club turned out to be a short adult woman
  • Calls for sex club yards from school to be closed

Sweet Shop Drug Den:

Alternative captions:

  • Police raid sweet shop and seize stock over suspected drug offences
  • Drugs raid at sweet shop
  • Sweets cleared from shop after police drugs raid
  • Two released under investigation after police swoop on sweet shop in suspected drugs raid

Animal Mass Burial Site:

Alternative captions:

  • Protests gather over animal burial site
  • Limited carcasses dumping to resume

Hidden Stanley: Approach and Development

See:


After arriving at 7 locations that I wanted to photograph and walking the route a couple of times to make images, I began to think about ways I could develop this idea further and if it could have potential for A1. The brief for the first assignment asks that we limit ourselves in some way, either through shooting a set amount of images or using a roll of film. The latter idea appealed to me as I had recently been gifted a 35mm camera – the idea of both shooting on film and the limits this would mean seemed to naturally lend itself to the brief. I also have a Holga camera which has been gathering dust for some time so this seemed like a good opportunity to use this again.

Already I was beginning to formulate a methodology that both extended on my previous strategies of walking, exploring and local knowledge to areas that were outside my comfort zone. My usual approach is to photograph without preconception, take a large number of images and build these into a set through the editing process. Although the development of this project involved walking and photographing locally, having specific locations to photograph and using film, which would naturally mean I would take fewer images than normal, presented key deviations from my usual working practices.

Typically, I struggled to completely limit myself in this exercise by using two cameras – although I did manage to only make images from two walks, despite the temptation to visit the locations more times. Below are some of the resulting photographs:

Stanley Spa:

Vigilante paedophile hunters:

Foot and mouth – Chapman’s Well:

Cannabis Farm:

Sweet shop drug den:

Bus Station Fight:

Causey Arch Dogging:

Hidden Stanley: Inspiration

The raw material for my last assignment for DI&C came from images I took walking the same route for 100 days. The act of walking, looking and thinking was crucial to this project and beginning level 3 I wanted to advance this methodology further. 

An idea came to me about photographing places that were within walking distance of my home that looked nondescript on the surface but had a hidden history. I began to think of stories I had seen in the press as a starting point (inspired by Tom Hunter‘s Living in Hell) and came up with 7 stories. I then used google search to find newspaper articles relating to them:

Stanley Spa:

The Stanley Spa is a former pub converted into a swingers club that has courted controversy over the years. It is somewhere I pass frequently that without local knowledge would seem completely benign, in fact, in all the times I have passed I have not seen anything untoward at all:

Vigilante paedophile hunters:

There are many stories concerning groups such as Dark Justice who use the internet to catch predatory paedophiles. A particular story where a local man was caught at a supermarket as he went there to meet who he thought was an underage girl stuck in my mind. Perhaps it was the fact that my eldest daughter was in her mid teens at the time, or the banality of meeting at a Supermarket combined with the gall to do this in such a public way that made this memorable:

Foot and mouth – Chapman’s Well:

This is the oldest of the stories I thought about, dating back to the foot and mouth crisis of the early 2000s. During that time, a mass cull of animals either affected or at risk of infection took place, one of which was a local area Clapman’s Well that I remember faced local opposition:

Cannabis Farm:

Cannabis farms being found in seemingly innocent residential properties seems to be a regular occurrence, and I approached this story with a general google search rather than by having a specific instance in mind:

Sweet shop drug den:

South Moor is a village just outside of Stanley with a reputation for being quite tough, so when this story broke about a sweet shop being the front for a drug dealing operation there was little surprise and many amused comments made, especially since the police had to seize all of the sweets as they may have been contaminated:

Bus Station fight:

Following a bonfire night fireworks display in 2018, a group of local youths gathered near Stanley bus station and fights broke out when PCSOs tried to move them on. Not sure if this counts as ‘viral’ given it was the end of the month before the story took hold and featured in the national press, but releasing the PCSOs body camera footage and video from camera phones seem to be the changes that meant this story gained interest across the country:

Causey Arch dogging:

Causey Arch is a local beauty spot with woodland walks leading to the world’s oldest surviving single arch railway bridge. The car park is renowned as a meeting place for ‘doggers’, although I could find no recent press articles about this – perhaps the subject is no longer as newsworthy as it once was?

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