Back behind the viewfinder

As per the previous posts it’s a return back to documenting my photography and below I’ll document my reasons for doing so and how it has helped me cope through the last two years.

Without going too far into the count of my library photos, saving that analysis for another post, it’s fair to say that 2020 was my quietest photographic year for some time. I took only 3302 photos in the whole of the year that Coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 (Covid-19) first affected the islands of the UK where I live.

This was the lowest number of images I’d created since 2006, that’s quite an astounding fact to me and one that I never twigged before. The reason for this drought of documentary images was of course the virus pandemic and the resultant strategies to beat the infection spreading across the globe.

It’s not that hard of a knock life

In truth I had it easy, I didn’t lose my job, I didn’t get seriously ill, I didn’t lose anyone close to me to the virus and my family are all still healthy and safe. It’s been a tragedy for many families and I’m aware of that, my thoughts and condolences go out to each and every person touched by the pandemic. If we’re talking about first world problems I found myself working from home since end of March 2020 right up until time of writing this post. Whilst the first four weeks were a bit frightening I was at home in my little home office connected to my company’s network and able to do my day to day work with relative ease and some of the comforts of being at home.

After the first month though, the shine had worn off. Here I was in the same box room looking at the same screen all day and even though I’m good at switching off my laptop at 5pm I was still sat in the same chair on my personal computer doing things that I needed to do, register for different things and basically find things to do.

I’m not an “active” person, I don’t go to the gym but I was missing some exercise, I’d become totally sedentary and even my Apple Watch thought I was hiding exercise from it, I rarely closed my Move, Stand and Exercise rings. Daily walks with my wife around the block became an outlet for some stress and a nice chat about the day’s tribulations but I was still missing something.

Apocalyptic Scenes

Looking back at the diary I’ve kept since the start of the pandemic I can see, along with my Lightroom library that I went out in July 2020 to go and take some photos of Shrewsbury town centre. It’s my home town and seeing it empty was a strange experience, even at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon. I felt like I wanted to document the vacant streets, closed pubs and restaurants and social distancing signs so I could record this for a future version of me once the pandemic had disappeared. (Who knew ?)

While I was wandering around with my Canon 6D and my 16-35mm lens I forgot about the working from home, being locked up away from the world and only communicating with two dimensional people on MS Teams or Zoom. The hidden knots of stress and anxiety seemed to leak from my trouser legs like I was in the Great Escape prison yard of Stalag Luft III. When I got home I felt better.

At this time I realised what I was missing and swore to myself that I’d do this more often, which I did a little of now and again throughout the rest of the second half of the year, when permitted by the rules and regulations.

We had a family day out at the beach which saw me take my camera and lenses, I got some lovely photos of my kids on the beach. I say kids but at this point they were 20 and 17. I even managed to get the Coastguard Merlin helicopter landing on the Blackrock Sands to transport a child that had nearly drowned in the sea. My camera started going with me in the car on journeys in case I bumped into something that warranted a photo and I felt like I was getting back into it.

With the cessation of the Caterpillar Photographic Society that I ran for a number of years, I lost an impetus to take photos. The assignments we had on a monthly basis encouraged me out to take pictures and I’d let that wain, but not for much longer. In the new year I’d sell my 300mm lens and trade up my 6D to a 5D Mk IV but not before I’d got the bug for a bit of street photography. The enjoyment I’ve got ambling around London with my camera taking pictures of buildings, and people had morphed into a love of capturing images of the working, living and breathing city. Alongside London, I started shooting around my home town paying more attention to composing an image and always being ready for a shot to come out of nowhere.

In September 2020 there was some relaxation to restrictions as the cases of covid-19 were falling and my wife and son went to watch the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar in a London Park. I had taken my camera and found myself like Cillian Murphy’s character in 28 Days Later, wandering around London whilst it was in a semi deserted state. I was looking through new eyes, people on the underground were fascinating, emergency vehicles were eye-catching targets of a panning shot. This was great fun, and a huge departure from being stuck in my “Watchtower” as the neighbours have taken to calling my little room. ( What can I say, it’s useful to spot parcels being dropped off throughout the day)

Insults to Injuries

The end of 2020 was taken up by OneWheel, an electric self balancing skateboard, so I didn’t get much DSLR photography done. I’d switched at this point to GoPro video of my rides to put them onto my YouTube channel but a few injuries saw me give that up in early 2021 and more focus back into the photography.

I started reading books on Street Photography, watching documentaries on YouTube about Elliot Erwitt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Saul Leiter and more and my interest continued to grow. My purchase of the 5D Mk IV was due to me missing focus on some shots of people moving around, I thought it should be ok if I could catch a Typhoon jet going through the valley at 500mph but people were a little harder. The focus time was a little slow and I was missing some images on the 6D.

My 5D Mk IV has allowed me to get back out there and take some more photos, Liverpool, London, Birmingham and Shrewsbury have all been targeted with more of an open eye to the surroundings rather than the usual tourist type shots I would have previously come back with.


With the return of my photography bug, I’ve found myself wanting to learn more too, I’ve checked out and applied for a BA (Hons) in Photography at Wolverhampton Uni and am looking forward to learning again, it’s been a few years since I’ve been in education in an academic setting but I relish the thought of picking up some new skills and some new subjects/missions/assignments to improve my photography. Here’s hoping I hear back soon with some positive news and then I can look forward to six years of part-time study for a degree.

I’ve another post coming soon on the numbers of images and file sizes as well as some more explanation of why I’m getting back into using my cameras again.

I’ve also resurrected my Flickr presence and a select few images can be seen on there too.

Thanks for reading and see you again soon!!

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