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A Photographic Celebration of Milton Keynes at 50

UnexpectedMK Mock-up cropped.jpg

Unexpected:MK was created as part of the MK50 celebrations in 2017. Its aim is to demonstrate how beautiful and unique Milton Keynes was at 50 - through a mix of 50 urban, architectural and landscape images, each of which showcases a different aspect of the city. 

As part of the MK50 celebrations in the run-up to January 23rd 2017, Unexpected:MK was featured on a number of TV and radio news channels, including BBC Breakfast, ITV Anglia, BBC Three Counties Radio, MKFM, BBC Radio Northampton and Heart Four Counties.


You can read more about the media response to Unexpected:MK on my blog post,

and see a full PDF of the book by clicking here


About Unexpected:MK
As a Milton Keynes resident since 1992 (coincidentally when MK was 25) I have always been a huge advocate of the town - and have brought up a family here, as well as running a successful business, over those years. My involvement in the 50th anniversary initiative was particularly relevant as I too was 50 in 2017, though I'm not sure I should admit that! 


The idea for this photography book came about over lunch with world-renowned landscape photographer Charlie Waite, who I am pleased to know as both an industry colleague and mentor. Having discussed the idea at length with Charlie, I then approached the MK50 team at Milton Keynes council, who were very helpful in supporting me during the early stages of the project's development.


The purpose of the book was to demonstrate to readers how beautiful and unique Milton Keynes was at 50 - through a mix of 50 urban, architectural and landscape images, each of which showcased a different aspect of the city. These were primarily been taken between Autumn 2015 and early Autumn 2016, to cover a full range of seasons.


The book also featured a number of extracts from the iconic Milton Keynes street maps which have been produced over the years - both new and old - made possible thanks to MK Council, Ordnance Survey, Heron Maps and the MK City Discovery Centre.


The new maps show where each image was taken, while the old extracts also show an element of the map which indicates a 'future development' - for example a dotted line where a lake would be created, or a designated location for an iconic building, alongside an image of that lake or building as it is today. 


I had originally intended to call the book 'Vision to Reality' but subsequently discovered as part of my research that a book on Milton Keynes called 'Image and Reality' by Terence Bendixson and John Platt, which was published in 1992, already existed.


We were in the process of thinking about a new name for the book when I was approached by Destination Milton Keynes about the possibility of calling it 'Unexpected:MK' to link in with their ongoing advertising campaign for Milton Keynes - which also included some of my images on billboard posters across London. I instantly knew that this was the right name for the book - as even though I had lived here for 25 years by then, in the process of taking images for the book over the previous year I came across so many places that I didn't even know existed!

Project structure
We initially planned to print 500 copies of the book, which is a high quality, professionally designed and printed 10” x 10” art book with a separate dust jacket. To make the project possible, we gained sponsorship from a range of Milton Keynes based business, each of whom received a proportion of the books in relation to the sponsorship amount. Without their support it simpyl would never have existed, so enormous thanks go to to:


Xscape, Destination Milton Keynes, The Open University, Milton Keynes Council, McDonald's franchise Kaizen Restaurants, Westfourstreet, Franklins Solicitors, Keens Shay Keens MK, Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership, 1st Financial Foundations, Riverford, SEKO Logistics, Daisy Bogg Consultancy, MK21 and Skyline Taxis.


These companies gave copies of Unexpected:MK to their clients as corporate gifts for Christmas 2016, and throughout 2017. Due to a large order of books from Milton Keynes Council - which were then used as gifts for visiting VIPs - and an unexpected demand from people wanting to buy copies, we ended up printing 1,700 copies in total over two print runs. 

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