An Elizabethan Progress

07 December 2017

Region: London

An Elizabethan Progress, a play on the description of Elizabeth the First’s visits with her entourage to various noble’s mansions, is probably the first book in the modern photobook form to be published by the RPS. The idea for the book was inspired by Crossrail, the £15 Billion new east-to-west rail system due for completion at end-2018. Photographs aimed for this book were sought about happenings on the surface directly over and close by Crossrail tunnels under London, together with photographs on the line and below in the new stations. The concept was loosely based on Alec Soth’s photobook Sleeping by the Mississippi, which by pure chance had a new edition published during the project.

A team of 16 photographers from RPS London members volunteered to take part, putting forward photos for selection for the book. Over 1800 were submitted from Spring to end-October 2017. As well as showing architecture and events, team members were encouraged to photograph people, including London’s ethnic mix, as the whole purpose of having a Crossrail was transportation of people. Research from the many on-line resources about Crossrail was encouraged, as were member initiatives to access Crossrail station construction, later helped by organised open days. In the west, the major disaster of Grenfell Tower in North Kensington was too significant to omit and a major push was made to cover the east (with 40% of Crossrail tunnel lengths being east of Whitechapel), eventually leading out to Abbey Wood, where the new surface station entrance with its wood features just made the project cut-off date; opening in mid-October.

Editing for the book was progressive throughout, with four book ‘dummies’ made as both PDFs and physical books. Editing was by Brian Steptoe, with choices made by need for images to be directly relevant to the book topic and to relate in design terms across page spreads. The final book was submitted to Crossrail Ltd to obtain clearance for publication. It is a hardback, with 116 pages and 111 photos, mainly one per page.

The book is available from the RPS, see www.rps.org/shop/publications/an-elizabethan-progress. A video can be seen on YouTube at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mejansKcDHI.