A photograph taken in September 2020, on a rare street photography outing.
About a year or so ago, I wrote a short blog post about the importance of taking a break from photography.
The advantages of having our cameras with us at all times in street photography are obvious, but it’s only by truly stepping back and taking a break, I suggested, that we get a real chance for reflection - rest - and uninterrupted consideration of our artistic journey. This in itself can help us return to photography with fresh focus, motivation and creativity to better advance our work.
For me, I think this is what 2020 has been all about. Just a lot more so than expected.
Like everyone, I never predicted the extent to which I've had to hold back from going on photo walks. I live in a country village 30 miles from London, and share my home with people who are more vulnerable than I am - so it was hard to justify a trip into London on safety grounds. The last time I visited was early March, and apart from a few trips to the coast around September, I've simply not been shooting very much at all.
Our opportunities for street photography have taken a major hit. But in the midst of all this, the most important creative fundamentals behind it have - arguably - burned brighter than ever as a result.
This year has challenged the photographic community like never before, to show invention and determination in the way we’ve continued to take photographs. We’ve had to adapt to circumstances to produce exciting and inventive work, and be flexible with our plans in order to take our creativity into areas we might not have expected.
At the beginning of the year, I was enjoying regular trips into London and down to the coast to take street photographs. I won my first photography award, and was setting myself up as a self-employed event photographer. I even had a couple of exhibitions in the pipeline.
Instead, I have had much, much more time available. Time to think about my own photography, discover new work of others - and also to experiment. In place of event photography, I learned videography and have since found a new role as a videographer and photographer in the motor trade. I made a series of photographs about “fake street photography”, creating street-inspired scenes in miniature using tiny figures and household objects. And I’ve had more time than ever to be critical of my own work. I think the extra thinking time this year has made me see where I need to move on with my street shots, and step up a gear. By taking such an enforced, yet lengthy break from street photography, my resolve and determination to take my photographs to new and exciting places is actually stronger than ever. I can’t wait to get back out there and take these new shots when it’s safe to do so.
I honestly don’t think I would have said any of this had it been just another normal year.
Put simply, I never saw any of it coming. But that’s 2020 for you.
A photograph taken in Portsmouth, also in September 2020.