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SR 8424 Edit 1
CREDIT: Mike Rooke LRPS

Emotions and photography during a year of pandemic

Contemporary Home | Events | News

This is the thirteenth blog in a series on COVID-19 and lockdown, edited by contemporaryweb@rps.org and contemporarydeputy@rps.org

As a result of Lockdown and the electronic adaptation to it, I’ve participated in contemporary North meetings via zoom despite living on the Isle of Wight.

I have long thought that anxiety can be driven by ‘losing control’ – of situations, of the freedom to make our own decisions, and uncertainty.  The social controls exerted on us by the Covid-19 restrictions changed me and my photography in this strangest of years.

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CREDIT: Mike Rooke LRPS

Spring 2020

I continued to photograph during 2020 but my subjects, and my treatment of them, were very different.  I was minded of the words of Morrie Cambhi, “ We see things not as they are, we see things as we are”.

I met people who have been seriously affected since March 2020.  One such person was Ann, who had been running a very successful ballet school which lost 100% of its income overnight.

I offered to pay her for some studio time.  Just the two of us, socially distanced and 100% compliant with the rules at the time.  She got back on her feet as the year unfolded, and discovered new avenues for her considerable talents as a dancer and choreographer.  A very strong person.

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CREDIT: Mike Rooke LRPS

Summer 2020

As we all got used to the continuing restrictions and subsequent adjustments to our lives and being encouraged to exercise, many of us wandered in the countryside around our homes, or along streets we had always driven through without giving anything much attention.  I started to notice, more than ever, the sounds, smells and colour of an English summer.

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CREDIT: Mike Rooke LRPS
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CREDIT: Mike Rooke LRPS

It became very easy to allow any thoughts of the pandemic to encroach on my renewed respect for the simple beauty of our countryside.  Summer 2020 was a good time.

Autumn 2020

The mood changed as summer faded.  A new grim reality that things weren’t going to change very quickly.  This was a new normal.

The storms, rain and wind of October, as well as the media’s exploitation of all of our anxieties in facing an apocalyptic future with seemingly no end in sight, definitely influenced my mood negatively.  This was reflected in my photography.

SR 8424 Edit 1
CREDIT: Mike Rooke LRPS
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CREDIT: Mike Rooke LRPS
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CREDIT: Mike Rooke LRPS
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CREDIT: Mike Rooke LRPS
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CREDIT: Mike Rooke LRPS
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CREDIT: Mike Rooke LRPS

I spent 12 days re-visiting familiar locations on the Isle of Wight, where I live.  The weather and the almost total absence of other people in usually highly frequented places gave me a sense of being a lone man who had been shipwrecked on wild a remote island.

Tim Rudman, in his book ‘Iceland – An Uneasy Calm’ captured my thoughts, after my hugely enjoyable and satisfying efforts, exactly:

In the familiar there is always something undiscovered.  Sometimes the landscape may change, sometimes the weather, but sometimes it is the photographer who changes.”