Project 16: Exploring function

Project brief

Choose any interior space, either domestic or public, and consider it from the point of view of its function.  Who uses it or will use it? What is intended to be used for?  And how many different aspects are there to that activity?

  • First note what I think is important that the space ought to be doing
  • Then consider how well it succeeds.

Form a point of view before making a carefully considered photograph of the space in order to put across the way it works- or should work – for the people who use it.


I’ve decided that the space I am going to work on is an open plan office space.  The important criteria for such a space to work are:

  • that it promotes open and easy communication;
  • that it emphasises the team rather than managers and staff;
  • it strikes a balance – providing sufficient privacy for quiet work and phone calls;
  • that it promotes an efficient workflow; and
  • it provides a good quality working environment.

In terms of how well the space succeeds, the point of view I have formed is that the reality of the space is somewhat different, (and perhaps inevitably so), from the ideal characteristics sought.

  • computer monitors, and (sometimes) constructions of books and folders block the ‘flow’ from desk to desk.
  • not all spaces are ‘equal’, managers tend to occupy corners rather than more ‘open’ locations.
  • privacy seems to be created by individual desk layouts rather than the organisation and fittings of the space itself
  • the space looks cluttered rather than ‘efficient’
  • furniture and equipment is tightly packed – is this the quality that was envisaged?

Now I’ve got my planning done I hope to make my photographs in about a week – I’m looking forwards to seeing if I can put my point of view across in one photograph.


The brief refers to a photograph and my preferred single image is P16-A below.  However, for completeness, I have also included two other examples that add more information to the project.

P16-A: 17mm, ISO 400, 0.5s@f11, tripod.

These sofas add an element of incongruity to this office space.  Whilst the pot plant strives to separate the working and the sitting spaces the image shows that in reality the latter looks out of place and although the sofas may be comfortable in a physical sense they are unlikely to be comfortable physiologically.  The presence of Xmas decorations on the pot plant and some of the rear desks makes the image a little surreal.  Note that although, as in all these images, a hot shoe spirit level was used to level the camera horizontally and vertically; and the lens profile was corrected in Lightroom, there is still considerable optical distortion, most notable in the ceiling.

P16-B: 17mm, ISO 400, 0.5s@f11, tripod.

P16-B is closer to my anticipated conclusions about this space.  The open plan area is heavily cluttered with monitors, files, papers and books.  There is plenty of paper in evidence everywhere in the scene.  Whilst the space has been planned to be ‘open’, the reality is that it seems to be busy and compact.

P16-C: 17mm, ISO 400, 0.5s@f11, tripod.

My final image utilises a camera position at the opposite end of the space to P16-A.  Superficially, this area looks more spacious than the previous image, (made about 20 feet away), but the line of boxes double stacked under the eaves of the modern desks suggest that some aspects of office work change little, irrespective of the office design and environment.

A further comment that applies to all three of the images is that they are slightly grainier / noisier than usual.  All were shot in raw using mirror lock up – however, as is my practice I had long exposure noise reduction turned off.  I had believed that these only made a difference with jpeg files but, after some internet research it seems I may be wrong – a lesson for the future.


I believe that these images meet the brief quite well.  Those I have shown them to, can relate strongly to the point of view I have tried to express.



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