This is the ninth blog in a series on COVID-19 and lockdown, edited by firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
I am Visiting Professor at the University of Leeds, interdisciplinary Ethics Applied, and have just finished an MA in Photography, Falmouth Flexible.
The project combines an image taken daily during the Covid-19 crisis - either at home from the studio or during some personal activity locally - with a news headline from that same morning. There is discordancy and often paradox between the headline and the photograph.
I wanted to do something different to photographs of empty streets, important as that might be for the documentary history of our times.
Throughout lockdown, nature was always there, sitting things out in so many ways - with all the time in the world on nature’s side - oblivious to our human, existential issues. Yet every day, nature was different, hour by hour. The light and the weather tell part of the story, as the daily photography reflected the routine of months of home-lockdown.
The first photograph in the series is from Monday, March 16th when the UK imposed social distancing rules. Lockdown happened a week later.
There are 120 photographs, with the last from July 13th, as the UK started opening up again.
Every morning all of the major newspaper and TV headlines were scanned, to choose those most representative. At the beginning of the pandemic, headlines had solemn similarity. But, as time passed, partisan politics entered the frame, particularly after the Dominic Cummings episode which broke public trust in many quarters. I mainly chose UK headlines, although occasionally global headlines helped set the pandemic context.
On some occasions, I took photographs with a morning headline in mind. On others, I simply let my daily walk drive the imagery, a flâneur on the local byways. The intent was never to be stale and predictable.
Within two weeks of finishing the images, I published a limited-edition softcover book (ISBN is 978-1-91-630921-0). This has a high-quality colour photograph per page for each of the 120 days. There is also an introductory (brief) chronology leading up to the Lockdown, using Ministerial quotes, which are quite telling in their initial denial. At the end. there is a reference list of all news headlines. The book has 138 pages.
All of the photographs in the series are here: https://www.mickyatesphotography.com/Photo-Essays/Coronavirus-UK/