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What is photographic surveying?

Photographic surveying takes various forms. Today it is a method of surveying in which plans or maps are prepared from photographs or the science of taking measurements from photographs of aerial photography. Patrick Geddes's civic surveys of Edinburgh's old town in the late 19th Century prefigured New Urbanism in the way he advocated the civic survey as indispensable to urban planning.


I was very inspired by Geddes' photographic surveys of Edinburgh's old town at the end of the 19th Century as a technique that could also be applied towards understanding historic imagery. Using a camera, Geddes used a walking and looking method to initially understand how Edinburgh's old town could be improved economically, socially and environmentally. He was a strong advocate of accurate looking as a method of understanding the past, present and future behaviour of people in cities. 'We live by leaves' said Geddes, meaning we are constantly living in relationship with nature, with the seasons, our lives are dependant on nature . Such a philosophy inspired me to take a similar approach to understanding the St Francis when I explored the relationship between its painter, his urban environment and his keen eye to seek out landscapes and natural details to make the painting. 

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