Thamesmead, East London

Thamesmead, East London

Welcome to URBAN EXPOSURE, a showcase of work by photographer James Wakefield.  

My photography is concerned with technological failure and ruination in the post-industrial city.  For the last fifteen years, my lens has focussed on the often unseen aspects of the urban landscape, revealing forgotten and decaying infrastructure and identifying huge societal shifts in our attitudes towards housing, industry, technology and mental health.

My immersive practice, through my training as a sociologist and urbanist, ensures that I fully engage with the historical and social context of any of the subjects I work on; these include:

  • a photographic study on the nuclear disaster site at Chernobyl and how this relates to the failure of Soviet Communism.
  • an in-depth research project into the famous Brutalist social housing block in East London, Balfron Tower, and its imminent conversion into private luxury apartments.
  • an exploration of derelict Victorian mental asylums in England and how these reflect a dramatic shift in attitudes to mental illness.
  • an ongoing study into post-war social housing, particularly tower blocks and council estates, looking at how ’success’ and ‘failure’ is measured as British politics has divested itself from state housing provision.

This website also includes a range of writings which discuss wider existential questions relating to modern photography, as well as my experiences of using different cameras.  Feedback and criticism is essential to my development as a photographer, so please take the time to comment on my work as you browse this site.

James Wakefield
jw@urban-exposure.com