A photographic celebration of Milton Keynes at 50, by Gill Prince

Unexpected:MK is available to buy online - and also in stock at the Milton Keynes Visitor Information Centre in the centre:mk (near John Lewis/Next close to door 13), and in the Gift Shop at Milton Keynes Museum. The price is £19.99, limited stocks are available. 

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. Read my blog post to find out more about the media response to the book, as well as comments from sponsors, customers and industry colleagues.

About the book
At this time I wanted to personally thank all of our amazing sponsors, without whom this book would not exist. Thank you!

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 my family here during the last 25 years. My involvement in this 50th anniversary initiative was particularly relevant as I too will be 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 a 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 is to demonstrate to readers how beautiful and unique Milton Keynes is at 50 - through a mix of 50 urban, architectural and landscape images, each of which showcases 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 features 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 exists. We were in the process of thinking about a new name for the book when I was approached by Destination MK 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. I instantly knew that this was the right name for the book, as even though I have lived here for 25 years, in the process of taking images for the book over the last year I have come 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, as detailed below, each of whom received a proportion of the books in relation to the sponsorship amount.

The books were then used as corporate gifts for Christmas 2016, and throughout 2017. Due to a large order from Milton Keynes Council - which will be used as gifts for visiting VIPs - and an unexpected demand from people wanting to buy copies, we ended up printing 1,500 in the first batch - and as of Jan 2017 are already looking into a reprint!

Press releases
As each new sponsor has come on board, we have issued a press release which announces the relationship and also explains a little more about why they became a sponsor. These can be found via the following links:

Milton Keynes Council Press Release
Franklins Solicitors Press Release
Destination MK Press Release
Skyline Taxis Press Release
Keens Shay Keens MK Press Release
Xscape Press Release

The Open University Press Release
Riverford in Milton Keynes Press Release
Daisy Bogg Consultancy Press Release
1st Financial Foundations Press Release
Kaizen Restaurants Ltd. t/a McDonald's Press Release
Westfourstreet Press Release
MK21 Press Release
MK Business Leaders Partnership Press Release
SEKO Logistics Press Release
Initial Launch Press Release