Site Specific Project- The People of Coventry

My second idea was to look at the people of Coventry, taking a more documentary and street photography approach, capturing them in the city, acting naturally showing their daily lives. To start this theme, I decided to research about the people of Coventry, looking at basic facts about the residents of the city.

Population boom: Coventry is fastest growing UK city outside London

  • Population boom: Coventry is fastest growing UK city outside London
  • A rise in the number of people settling in the city from abroad is largely driving the city’s population boom.
  • Latest figures obtained from the Office for National Statistics show that between 2012 and 2013, the city’s population grew by 2.07 per cent, or 6,678 more people.
  • Last year, Coventry was estimated to be a city of 329,810 people.
  • More than 7,000 migrants from overseas made Coventry their home in 2013
  • Those migrants were mainly from EU accession states such as Poland, Estonia and Hungary, with the next highest proportion coming from Asia and the Middle East.
  • There were many more births than deaths in the city in 2013, which accounted for a population growth of 0.5 per cent.
  • Population has increased in the UK over the past year, but most of that is fuelled by a higher birth rate and a lower death rate, rather than by immigration.
  • For example, men are much more likely to live past 75 now – there’s been a 25 per cent national increase in the size of this group over the past 10 years.

  • Coventry has a young population with the median age being 35.1 years compared to 39.4 years for England.
  • Coventry, being a university city, has a disproportionate number of people aged between 18 – 24 years – 13.6% compared to 9.5% for England as a whole. This age group does not age as new students replace graduating students each academic year.
  • There were 28,000 full time students at Coventry University and University of Warwick. The “State of the Cities” report identified Coventry as one of only six cities in UK where the population was getting younger.
  • The city is ethnically diverse, with 26% of Coventry’s inhabitants coming from minority ethnic communities compared to 16% for England as a whole. Asian and Asian British communities together make up 12.1% of the city’s population, 8.2% have an Asian or British Asian: Indian background.
  • Coventry’s population from a broadly Black or Black British background make up 3.3%
  • Levels of household income are rising in Coventry. The mean average household income in Coventry in 2009 is £31,965 a year, approximately 8% lower than national mean income.

  • A prosperous medieval town, modern Coventry’s success was based on motor manufacture and engineering.
  • The Phoenix Initiative, a multi-million-pound scheme, has revitalised an area of the city with a series of public squares and gardens alongside cafés, bars and shops.

  • Between 2003/4 and 2009/10 the numbers of students at Coventry University and the University of Warwick increased from 47,600 to 52,200. In the last two years (07/8 to 09/10) the student population has grown by 2,250.

From my research I found out that there is a diverse population in Coventry, with a range of different ethnicities and ages. Due to the two universities in the city centre and on the outskirts,  the city has many students. I could explore how this effects the city life and the people in the city. When photographing the people of Coventry are there more students in my photographs or elderly people?

When it comes to photographing people, I need to consider my approach; I decided to research the effect being in public has on people’s behaviour and how people act when the are being watched.


  • Most persons act polite, mild mannered, and pleasant.
  • When in public, they must constrain their temper, adhere to proper behavior, and maintain a good image. Why? Because, there are witnesses that can account for their behavior, they can get themselves in trouble with the law if they cross the line, and they could get a bad reputation.
  • There is a code of conduct that must be followed when in public. We are taught at a young age what is proper behavior.
  • They have to adhere to society’s rules in order to fit in. Society looks down on those that behave badly in public.

How people behave in public

  • When people are in public alone they usually blend in.
  • They don’t want to draw attention to themselves and act the way they feel natural.
  • When we are in public with our parents or relatives our behavior changes. Our behavior is like we would be at home with them.

How people behave differently when they are being watched

  • A team from Newcastle University found people put nearly three times as much money into an ‘honesty box’ when they were being watched
  • Findings show how people behave differently when they believe they are being watched because they are worried what others will think of them. Being seen to co-operate is a good long-term strategy for individuals because it is likely to mean others will return the gesture when needed.

People do change the way they act when they are in public and are being watched; this will be the same as when people are being photographed, people often change the way the behave in front of a camera. I want to create natural photographs of people acting like they would on a daily basis, showing their lifestyle. To get these natural photographs I will have to be more discrete with my photography approach, I will try to capture people who have not noticed the camera, so it gives a true representation of how they act in public.



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