Somewhere in the depths of the local paper’s archives* circa 1960 there’s a beaming picture of my nana in her kitchen. She’s smiling, not because of the orange and mustard patterned wallpaper – however fetching, but because she’s stood in one of two kitchens in the house.
Someone, somewhere made the decision to give her family of 11 two adjoining council properties. A decision which meant she could serve all her brood in a single sitting, hence the smile. And a decision, more remarkably perhaps, which received positive media attention.
That picture captures, for me, the joy that decent, suitable accommodation can make. There’s a personal story behind it and a personal ongoing legacy for our family, but it’s a snapshot of something much bigger. Housing matters, people matter.
For my colleague Ian, it’s this RIBA image of Alton East Estate, Roehampton, which captures housing’s force for good. And for our managing director Nicola, it’s the striking image of a shack amidst multi-million pound homes on a Caribbean shoreline – an ageing local who loves his home and stands still, real and happy amongst the faceless luxury around him.
The mix of people and place is common to all three. A timely reminder when, in the rush to prove house building credentials to Government and investor positioning, the trend is nudging in some quarters towards aesthetically pleasing development-led design concepts across suites of publications. There’s a place for both.
Ultimately, housing has a strong, impactful story to tell, which the team at Creative Bridge works hard with our clients to tell better. And in an era where visual matters more than ever, never has it been truer that a picture speaks a thousand words. The irony that I’m writing a blog isn’t lost on me.
The stats get dated almost as soon as they are shared, but the future is visual:
The eye trusts what it can see, which is why we’re proud to be supporting the CIH Big Picture campaign. It’s another opportunity to remind people of the purpose of the work a large percentage of our clients deliver day in, day out.
It still wouldn’t be enough for a mortgage deposit these days, but if I’d a pound for every hard hat picture I’d seen, I’d not be doing badly. But somewhere behind that image is the mum desperately bidding for a home with a larger garden, near a better school and a kitchen table which allows all her brood to eat a family meal at the same time.
So here’s a general call to creative arms; put down the giant cheques, lay down the red ribbon cutting, halt that sod cutting with logo hard hat and ask the person with the camera to capture those central to the story and wider context. Or at least, take an extra shot outside of the media’s typical expectations which shows why you are launching that digital service, recruiting that new director, running that community event or sponsoring the local football team. Hunt out the purpose.
And secondly, a call to take part in The Big Picture. Hunt out the files, films, negative strips, slides and polaroids. I know we’re busy shaping and owning our future, but let’s make time to celebrate the past and capture progress.
Lives noble, homes happy and family life good – you’ve a pic somewhere I know it. Tell the story.
To enter your image all you need to do is email your photograph to firstname.lastname@example.org before the deadline of Friday 6 January along with a brief description of no more than 150 words which sums up what it shows about the value of housing. Job done. And good luck.
*although actually probably only in the local library. Based on the work experience evidence of the now closed newsroom storage and filing, there was more chance of finding the body of the last work experience person sent down there than the document you wanted. Although I did find my future husband, so not all bad. #datingbeforetinder.