Peter Spurgeon – Decoy

Peter Spurgeon is a photographer based in Bristol working throughout the UK. He graduated from the MA in Documentary Photography in Newport in 2016 and shared this work-in-progress at Photo Scratch in July 2017.


My ‘Decoy’ project concerns a secret British Air Ministry project that took place during the Second World War. Sound City film studios in Shepperton was commissioned to design fake cities, airfields, docks and oil refineries. Fires and electric lights were used to make the dummy sites to look like real targets when viewed from the air at night. This was so that enemy bombs would be diverted away from the true targets. Today, only control bunkers remain at many of the sites as crumbling reminders of this forgotten endeavour. They sheltered the crew and housed generators for the lights. This simulation diverted 5% of enemy bombs away from their intended destinations.

I have used archive sources from the National Archives and the RAF Museum to better understand the sites and to give historical context to my images. I introduce theatrical lighting to animate the landscape and to evoke visual deception in war.

Photo Scratch was a great opportunity to share my project and to discuss it with a varied audience. Setting up during the afternoon was a chance to meet the other photographers and discuss their work. 6pm soon arrived and there was a real buzz as people arrived at the event. The atmosphere was energetic yet relaxed and it was rewarding to have some in depth discussions about my project. It was a good environment to see and discuss everyone’s work. The opportunity for visitors to leave written feedback is an effective way for photographers to gain constructive observations and criticism.

To find out more or follow Peter’s work:

Insta: @peter.spurgeon

Twitter: @peter_spurgeon

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