Lessons from lockdown

Written on 22nd May 2020 | No Comments

As the UK starts to emerge from lockdown and we have freedom to travel further afield I’ve been thinking about the kind of photographs I want to take. Lockdown has forced me to think about what I want from photography because the only opportunity I’ve had to take photographs has been during walks near my house, which is an area that until now I’ve not found very inspiring.

During March and April I spent a lot of time walking around local fields and exploring new footpaths that I hadn’t thought to follow before. At first I thought that lockdown would feel restrictive and that I’d struggle to find anything to pique my interest in taking photos. However, in time I began to look at my local neighbourhood afresh.

During my daily exercise walk I wanted to make the most of my freedom as possible, so I walked slowly and I wandered with an inquisitive mind. Before long I decided to take my camera with me, not in hope of capturing anything I’d consider to be a keeper, but more to play with composition ideas and see what I’d come up with – to experiment. When I first started out in photography I didn’t concern myself so much with the subjects that I photographed, I just enjoyed making pictures.

In lockdown, I allowed myself to experiment more and photograph whatever I like. I found that I greatly enjoyed an unpressured approach and I quickly became lost in the process of taking photos, my mind full of thoughts of how I could make simple features like a tree or a hedge into a pleasing picture.

When sunny weather arrived I decided to get up before dawn so that I could see how the light played across the familiar local views. I found the profound quietness of lockdown – the lack of background car or plane noise – allowed my mind to wander freely and I was able to enjoy the moment more. In the past, I’d often hear birdsong when I was out taking photos but this felt extra special because it was uncompromised. I went out for a dawn walk several times over the space of a few weeks, not with photography in mind, but because I liked the feeling of wandering quietly in nature.

Each day I’d notice changes, such as new shoots emerging and flowers popping up. A group of wild cherry trees in a small park gained more and more blossoms each day until the point where they had the brilliance of a firework explosion and I thought they might keel over under the weight of their own petals. These were the first subjects that I felt the need to photograph.

Merry Wild Cherries: a group of four Wild Cherry trees in a park near my house.

Just beyond the small park is a large field which slopes gently downhill. I’ve walked around this field many times through the seasons but I’ve never before felt the need to take a photo of it. Yet as time passed I felt more and more grateful to have access to such an open space and to be able to see the fresh green leaves of spring emerging. I felt I wanted to capture a photograph of the field because I enjoyed it so much.

What has struck me about this time in lockdown is how much I’ve enjoyed returning to the basics of photography; to capturing views or subjects purely because they bring me joy. It might sound strange but it’s easy to lose sight of that simple aim.

Leave a comment