11th June Tilbury Fort – Project

Tilbury Fort, also known historically as the Thermitage Bulwark and the West Tilbury Blockhouse, is an artillery fort on the north bank of the River Thames in England. Tilbury Fort marks the start point for my journey along the Essex coastline.


The purpose of the visit to Tilbury Fort was an initial trip to record a series of images that would help me shape the project Tilbury to Harwich by recording a series of images that explore different aspects of the location. My intention is to combine the best of the images from this location with other locations as I start to shape how I feel about the coastal locations. I have decided to use photography as part of my research apparatus during this phase of developing the project.

Equipment Used

I decided to use my DSLR with 3 different zoom lenses 16-35mm f2.8, 24-70mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8 plus a tripod and remote trigger as my primary research tools. I am trying to balance flexibility with weight as each walk will last between 2 and 4 hours and I need to carry a few basic provisions such as water and snacks.


The methodology adopted for research was to execute some initial research online to create an initial plan of approach for the location but allow intuition to guide me at the location. The plan was to capture 3 groups of images:

  • Landscape / establishing shot images
  • Close-up of specific objects that I find interesting or could tell the reader something about the location and how I feel about the location
  • Capturing people at the location is a secondary objective

Strong Image

This image from Tilbury Fort is one of the anti-aircraft guns stationed at the fort and used to protect London and the docks atTilbury. I saw the meadow grass on the earth bank of the fort. The image incorporates the symbols of warfare the weapons of destruction and the red poppies that have represent the loss of life. These symbols represent something different as the image was record on the week before the UK government started the Brexit negotiation process that will redefine the borders within Europe.

Weak Image

I wanted to record an image that showed the history of the fort in a single image. The stone of the entrance was imposing but the light on the day was flat and this resulted in an image that did not bring out the details of the weathered stone in the way I was hoping. Potentially visiting the site on a different day with different light would have allowed me to create the image I intended. 

Any Research References

In preparation for the shoot I did some research about the location:
Visual orientation:

Historical material: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilbury_Fort

Assessment of outcome

The images I captured during my visit to the site felt like an exercise in documentary photography rather than images that could be considered as art images. I did not feel a connection with the wider angle images I think partly because the images do not have a point of interaction or focus. The images I captured of specific objects had more resonance for me especially the image with the gun looking out across the Estuary at the top of a back of poppies.

I think it will be a case of placing the different style images from Tilbury Fort to understand how they will interact with images from other locations along the coast.

This entry was posted in Movement No: 3, Projects, Research Project, Surfaces and Strategies.