Unruly Landscapes and the City of London: Mobility Studies, Street Photography and Stephen McLaren’s The Crash

Susan P. Mains (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Photography narrates places through space and time. It is a storytelling method and format that not only reflects the landscapes viewed, but can also act as a catalyst for reflection and critical engagement with hidden mobilities that are in plain sight. In this article I illustrate the ways in which photography offers a unique opportunity to humanize and critique economic crises and unequal experiences of urban landscapes. Drawing on research in mobility studies, media studies, and cultural geography, this study interweaves interdisciplinary approaches to representation and urbanization to highlight the importance of visual narratives in how we negotiate and manage city life. Examining the work of Stephen McLaren, specifically through his photographic series, The Crash: London’s Finance Disaster 2008, this article analyzes the ways in which photography brings into relief both public and private relationships with place and finance. By directly examining the use of photography, singular narratives of economic and social mobility are called into question, while an important entryway is opened into a more nuanced use of critical visual analysis to understand shifting mobilities, and economic and emotional geographies. Visual media analysis offers an opportunity to move beyond representations of crises, and their related built environments, as exceptional and distinct, highlighting instead an often hidden series of related contradictory socio-spatial mobilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-50
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • mobilities
  • media
  • photography
  • cities
  • finance
  • London
  • Photography
  • Mobilities
  • Finance
  • Media
  • Cities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transportation


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