People, Place and Fish

Exploring the cultural meanings of inshore fishing through photography

People, Place and Fish is a creative photo project by the University of Greenwich aimed at revealing the cultural values of inshore fishing. Images create a visual representation of intangible meanings that are often difficult to express in words. Photography can be a powerful tool to help visualise and value the often intangible contribution that inshore fishing can make to places.

The project involved three elements:

  • a travelling exhibition that used photography to visualise the cultural values that arise from fishing.
  • community photography: those living and working in fishing communities were asked to take photos that captured what fishing means to them.
  • a photo-journalist was commissioned to create a collection of images that captured the diverse landscapes and activities of fishing that were displayed in three exhibitions titled Landscapes of Fishing.

Travelling exhibition and community photography

In order to engage and begin a conversation with local communities, a series of community exhibitions were held. These exhibitions were based on photographs taken primarily by two key researchers in a range of different fishing communities. The photographs were used to depict the range of different ways that inshore fishing contributes to place-making in coastal communities. The photographs were organised under themes taken from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment idea of cultural ecosystem services and includes categories relating to aesthetic values, cultural identity, education and knowledge, heritage values, inspiration, social relations, spiritual and religious values and tourism and recreation.

In linking the photographs of inshore fishing with the categories of cultural ecosystem services it was possible to demonstrate how fisheries can exert an impact on towns in ways that sometimes go unnoticed by the general public. For instance, the depiction of fishing through street signs and furniture, or the decoration of buildings that contributes to place making. The photography exhibition proved to be a powerful way to explore these often hidden or intangible impacts of fishing on places.

Local communities were also asked to contribute photographs to the exhibition together with a short accompanying text to describe the importance of the images to them.

The exhibition was shown in the following locations:

16-20 June 2013: Looe, Cornwall, UK
21-25 July 2013: Le Guilvinec, Brittany, France
19-23 August 2013: Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk, UK
28-29 November 2013: Oostende, Belgium
4 June 2014: Rennes, Brittany, France
31 July-6 August 2014: Whitstable, Kent, UK
26-31 August 2014: Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue, Normandy, France

Photo-journalist: Landscapes of Fishing

A professional photo-journalist was commissioned to take photographs in a range of different coastal towns in England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The aim was, through the eyes of a professional photographer, to capture the diversity of landscapes and environments in which fishing activity takes place in order to raise awareness of the rich cultural value associated with fishing, but also to create a ‘snapshot in time’ of fishing activity in the English Channel and Southern North Sea.

Final exhibitions of the collection were held in the following locations:

29 March-18 May 2014: National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth, UK
1 July-2 August 2014: Oostende Library, Oostende, Belgium
3-30 August 2014: De Drvkkery, Middelburg, Netherlands


  Picture: Photo exhibition Library Oostende, Belgium (Photo: ©Vince Bevan)


Through this online presentation of the travelling exhibition and the photo-journalism we want to share a selection of the images from the project. These highlight the diverse way that inshore fishing is contributing to the social and cultural life in our coastal communities.