Like thousands of other photographers, and millions of people across the world, my photography pursuits largely came to a halt 2 weeks ago on 24th March 2020.
We all know the effect it has had on big business, but I am of the view that it is the smallest of businesses and the startups that have been hit the hardest. Wedding photographers, pet photographers, school photographers, and obviously hair dressers, gardeners, builders, and all manner of trades people; all of us have been paused and many will be ruined either for the short term of sadly maybe the long term too. In addition to photography client losses, I also run a small dog boarding business; we had 6 clients booked in between March and May. All of them had to cancel, one by one, and we are unlikely to get any more bookings until after the summer, which is the peak season of interest obviously which will by then have been lost too.
Not only has the work evaporated overnight for photographers and non-photographers a like, but one can’t even plan for the future as it would seem insensitive to me to do so at this time when there are thousands of people dying, and thousands of people risking everything to help. When there are NHS staff and thousands of other key workers risking literally their lives (and for some, sadly losing their lives to that risk) to help keep the country running, it seems ludicrous to even think about posting a promotion or circulating any kind of material that might be taken as trying to capitalise on the situation, even if you are just trying to keep your business afloat for the future.
Like many of us, I read about the “Door Step Families in Lockdown” type photography that is doing the rounds in the various countries. If you don’t know, this is where photographers are capturing nice photographs of families at their doorsteps, captured from the street. My immediate thought when I read about this was “What a great idea…I could do the same; no cost of course. I’ll just shoot and do them a darkroom print. Just my way of helping the local community“. But then I thought
- I am not supposed to leave the house except to exercise or shop so me taking photographs from the street wont look good and
- People will just see it as me trying to get business exposure while the world crumbles around us. And so, whilst I am of the view I could offer a valuable community service with my photography, perhaps giving people free darkroom prints, I have not done so for fear of how it would be perceived.
And so the photography wheels have literally come to a complete standstill for me, and I know for many other photographers. But, I am hopeful and optimistic that my family and friends will come through this, especially now we are all in lockdown. I certainly hope so. Sadly I do know of family members close to my friends who have lost their battle with COVID 19 which brings it alarmingly close to your mind. I hope also for as many people as possible in my community to stay safe too. Though, I am worried as we have a high proportion of elderly but, it seems more recently that COVID-19 is not just adapt at hurting the elderly either, as tragic recent news has shown with youngsters also falling victim.
However, I am quite certain the UK and the world will come through this situation. A few weeks from now I am sure life will slowly get back to normal, allbeit with restrictions being applied for some while I suspect. And I am excited and hopeful for when we do. The Queen is making an announcement tomorrow (Sunday 6th April 20:00) which I suspect will be of a similar tone. And in that vein, I decided two weeks ago to do what I know many of us photographers are doing whilst in isolation, and that is a “Our family in Coronavirus Quarantine” series.
I decided shortly after Boris Johnson announced lockdown day in mid March that years from now we would think back to “when Coronavirus came to the UK“. Our kids, especially, when they are older, will always remember and talk about “that time when all the schools closed and the roads went quiet, and we couldn’t leave the house for weeks and we couldn’t go on holiday“. For them, probably more than me, this time will be forever remembered, decades from now; they will tell their children about it too. And so I decided to try and document it, photographically. I’m not talking fancy lighting or fancy effects, or crazy Bokeh type shots with sidelighting. I mean everyday family snaps of us in our home just doing whatever we are doing; eating cereal, doing school work, playing on the XBox, playing in the garden. Anything. I have attempted to take at least one photograph every day for the last two weeks either in the house, or during one of our “once a day exercise outside” trips.
To keep it consistent, I decided to use one camera, and if possible only black and white film. Why? Because I can develop and scan B&W at home which will save me a fortune and I think the finished project will look better as either entirely B&W or entirely in colour, and B&W film is generally cheaper. So, in line with my usual methods, I have stuck with using film of the same speed and from the same manufacturer – Ilford. I am using mostly Ilford Delta 400 and secondly to that, Ilford HP5. I do also have two rolls of Ilford Delta 100 just in case we get some bright weather and are outside.
So far, I have shot 5 rolls of 120 using the Hasselblad, and I’ve spent today developing 4 of those 5 using Ilford DD-X as always. I will continue to do so for as long as I can afford to do so! And when this is over, and we are free from lockdown, and “Rona has hit the hills”, I intend to create a Photobook using all the images for my kids to keep. Something positive for us to have and to cherish amidst a very dark period.
Thanks for stopping by and reading this. I hope it has presented a bit of sunshine on an otherwise gloomy situation, whilst also fully appreciating the gravity of the situation. We will get through it. We will be OK. Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives. And look after each other 🙂
Featured Image sourced from Nature.com (https://www.nature.com/collections/hajgidghjb) and is duly acknowledged