Lord Wandsworth College: Photographing the Western Front

Lord Wandsworth College (LWC) has toured the Western Front  with Anglia since 2005, looking to develop the tour in a new direction every year. The pupils on the 2016 trip were perhaps the group most attached to their phones that we have seen but this got a teacher thinking about how the phones could be used in a different way on tour.

We decided to run a photographic competition, inviting pupils to take photos and submit them to be judged, with a view to staging an exhibition to coincide with 11th November 2017.

The project was enhanced when we met Simon Gregor, an Anglia guide and a professional photographer who has run workshops with schools. Simon agreed to lead a workshop at LWC and gave structure to the original idea by introducing categories: Nature, Detail, Cemetery, Memorial, Battlefield and Open.

Nine pupils volunteered to take part in the workshop – we had allowed for 12 – and Simon invited them to discuss photographs he had sourced and some he had taken.  They worked in groups to discuss composition, mood, structure, and how the photographs worked to tell a story about their location.  This was used as a springboard for the pupils to start to think about what images they might take in each of the competition categories.

On the tour, guides and staff mentioned times when photographers might work but the project became self-directed and it was not uncommon to see a pupil taking a close-up of a plant by a gravestone or on the ground taking a shot of the top of a memorial.

The pupils submitted their best entries and two of the tour teachers, an Art teacher and a member of Senior Leadership Team together with a Year 12 History student who was on the trip in 2014 judged. Prizes were awarded and in the final assembly of term the winners were announced and their photographs displayed on screen.

Looking back on the project, Simon said ‘I was really struck by how engaged and enthusiastic the pupils were during the pre-tour workshop session, in which they shared some insightful and thoughtful comments on the images we talked about.  I was equally impressed by the very high-quality of the images they took themselves while out on tour – there were some extremely striking and thought-provoking photos.’

The plans for the exhibition remain in place, hopefully coinciding with the unveiling of a war memorial in school. The project will run again next year.

Find out more about Simon Gregor

Read about the Remembrance Image Project led by Simon.