As we finally emerge from one of the most difficult period of our recent lives, I finally got the single roll of film that I managed to shoot in those 3 months processed and what I saw genuinely shocked me.
The following pictures were all shot on a single roll of fuji pro 400h, with a Rollei 35s, on a single day in the middle of the lockdown period around Kew and Richmond, just outside of London.
I remember going out that morning for my one period of allowed exercise of the day, popping down to Richmond to post a letter. I remember thinking that I had to document this one way or another, and I’m glad I did.
As I look back through some of these shots, I remember the feeling of walking around in a ghost town. The only shop that was open at the time was the post office, and even then everyone had to queue down an alleyway, almost hiding from the empty main street as if it was a crime to be outside, enjoying some of the sunniest weather the UK had recently experienced… almost a snub.
Some of us have sadly lost family members, jobs, income and opportunities, others have had their livelihoods changed for the foreseeable future. Some have enjoyed being constantly at home, some have hated it… As we start to reflect on what has happened over the previous 3 months, I wanted to document and illustrate this emptiness and how life as we used to know it effectively stopped to fight this virus.
We all played our part, but sadly there will be few heroes. The hard fights were fought in the confines of hospital wards, in laboratories, in offices, figuring out logistics, food supplies, processes and guidelines. There was no physical destruction, little emotion, no real joy at the end. As a photographer, I initially found it very difficult to accept that I wouldn’t be able to capture at least some of the evidence, especially after a prolonged period of demonstrations and the intense visual stimulation associated with Brexit, Trump and the various elections of the last few years.
For me, a little bit like these pictures show, I feel like we all lost a little bit of our soul in those 3 months and I hope that they will act as a reminder of how it was then, and push us to make the most of whatever comes next… however different it may be from the past. I’ve now realised even more what it means to be human, how I’ve missed my family, shaking a hand, smiling at someone or taking a picture. Instead it was all about walking away from people, trying to prevent yourself from sneezing and constantly wondering if I could have touched something I shouldn’t have.
Individually, these pictures mean very little but as a body, they tell a story. I feel like I now have a little time capsule, in the form of a single strip of negatives. I will probably never scan these again, but I will be able, one day, to show the next generation physical evidence of how it was in the spring of 2020…
You can see more of my work on instagram. (@cloud_surfer14)