An alternative fourth assignment

This is an alternative fourth assignment which I didn't submit to my tutor. I created it after the feedback my tutor had given for my assignment submission.

Brief: This assignment will consider the underlying appreciation of what spaces and buildings mean for the people who live in among them. Imagine you are on assignment for an intelligent, thoughtful travel publication that is demanding a considered, in-depth treatment. Aim to produce sufficient images (about 6) on a specific location.

Whilst on holiday in Norway I had the opportunity to visit the small picturesque village of Flåm, which is situated innermost in the Aurlandsfjord, an arm of the 204-km long and up to 1308-metre-deep Sognefjord. Flåm is the end station of the popular Flåm Railway and a popular location for cruise ships to dock whilst navigating the fjords. 

English tourists visited Flåm as early as the 19th century, when "salmon lords" came to fish in the Flåm river. Fortunately this steady stream of tourism has not had a great impact on the Flåm. I was surprised at how little the village had been commercialised.

Whilst I was there I noticed how the misty, green environment of the fjords exist harmoniously with people. The purpose of this assignment was to illustrate how both the human and physical geography of Flåm create a pleasant, peaceful environment. 

The 12 photographs that I need to make my final selection from can be seen below.

tried to include a mixture of buildings, transport links and physical environment features such as the steep hillsides and waterfalls.

My final selection.

1. Small wooden cabins line the shore of the Aurlandsfjorden, dominated by the steep forested mountains in the background. The water is still, with very little activity.

2. Flam is derived from the Old Norse word flá, which means a plain between steep mountains. The image above shows the flat land of the flood plains of the Flåm River. Empty ferries are docked, the car parks are quiet around the retail outlets towards the centre of the image. In the background waterfalls can be seen flowing towards the left of the frame.

3. The Fretheim Hotel is the large white building in the foreground with fjord mist circling overhead. The steep, rugged slopes in the background are also enveloped in mist.

4. Walkers can be seen following the winding road up towards the steep mountain slope with the railway safety barriers opened up. Again the characteristic mist covers the trees in the upper-most part of the image. 

5. The timber Norwegian houses are paired in muted colours which enable them to 'fit' into the surrounding scenery without being unsightly. 

6. This is my favourite image of the set. The wooden frame of a fourth house appears to being constructed very subtly, with little impact to the surrounding environment. Very different to England where roads would be coned off and heavy machinery brought in. Also, in the foreground,  some old timber has been neatly tied up beside the river. 

7. This final image is a reference to how tourism could damage Flam's sense of place. A bright red pad train transports sightseeing tourists to the next photo opportunity. The colour of the train dominates the photograph. By following its movement, whilst pressing the shutter button, I have blurred the scenery in the background, making it appear less significant. This is a reference to how tourism threats to harm Flam's unique, picturesque sense of place.


When photographing such a unique place it is difficult to avoid getting caught up with the tourist style photography. Every place will have a different feel and character. I hope I've done justice to Flam's natural beauty and showed how the local residents have adapted to what can be a harsh environment to live in. 

This quaint village has no 'larger than life' characters or iconic buildings to photograph. It tries to be as private and remote as it can be in the face of the tourism industry. By choosing Flam as the subject of this assignment I feel I may have limited myself to the variety of images I could take, but it was such a different place for me to experience. With more ease of access and time I could have revisited Flam and photographed it in the winter, as a comparison between the different seasons. 

However, by choosing a small defined area I was able to photograph a lot of different viewpoints in the time I had. The geographical restriction of the terrain also enabled me to focus on a small area. 

If I hadn't been focussed on this assignment I may have found my self on the tourist train in photograph 7! Having a whistle stop tour of the area with only opportunities to take photographs of the identical things that everyone else would be photographing. By following my own path, I was able to shoot scenes, such as photograph 6, which say much more about the area and the people who live there.