7 Photographers on Capturing in the Time of COVID

7 Photographers on Capturing in the Time of COVID

Introduction by Riley Runnells

Spring Studios is making the best of quarantine with their new Spring virtual gallery, called #shotathome. The showcase features work created during lockdown by the Spring Studios community of photographers and employees.

"At Spring we are passionate about the inspirational power of creativity," Spring Studios says. "During the lockdown we started a movement to find new ways for our community to share personal experiences in original and uplifting photography."

The gallery features powerful images from names such as Craig McDean, Sølve Sundsbø, Camilla Akrans, Tom Munro, Carlton Davis, Alexi Lubomirski, Alique and Victor Demarchelier. Each image tells its own story and captures how creativity can live on even in the most difficult of times.

All the work is available on Spring Studios' website and will be available to buy until December 16. Proceeds will go to Spring Studios' long-standing partner, the British Fashion Council: BFC Foundation Fashion Fund For The COVID Crisis. Below, a selection of the #shotathome photographers tell PAPER how COVID has changed their practice.

Photography this year has become simpler in some ways and simultaneously more complicated at the same time.

I tend to work with small teams, so on this aspect I don't feel any specific restrictions.Technically, wearing glasses and a mask isn't the most comfortable, but you just have to make it work. Somehow, it orientates us to a maybe more sustainable approach, by reducing unnecessary travel when remote technology can be set up, and giving more chances to local teams. 'm trying to see things on the bright side here.

It has certainly been a creative challenge to adapt to the logistical elements of lockdowns and safety precautions for engaging with subjects. The silver lining is that it's prompted us to deconstruct our methods for image making, and put it all back together in a new and interesting way. Navigating remote shoots and working with scaled-back crews means we have to all be more nimble in how we tackle a project.

Our engagement with clients and subjects are still vital to the creative process. While nothing will replace the energy of a group of creatives together in the same room collaborating, troubleshooting and building, technology has allowed us to bring our clients into the studio even if they are 3,000 miles away. I'm incredibly fortunate to have such a dedicated team who has made all of this more seamless. I could have not navigated this without them.

The other notable observation is that the lockdowns forced me to slow down. I'm usually on the road or shooting a different project every week. Pre-COVID, it was not uncommon for me to be shooting on Monday in Paris and shooting another project on Friday in Los Angeles. All the movement and hustle is wonderful, but what I've learned from the lockdowns is how vital downtime is for creative growth.

The last year has been one of the most inspiring for me creatively. When you're not on a plane or shooting a project every day, you're forced to reflect and find new ways to engage with your work. It's been a year of defining what matters most to me and also my team. I'm so proud of the way my team responded during the shutdown—- we partnered with RAD and Christie's to raise money for COVID-19 relief organizations (RADArt4Aid), revisited previous work from our extensive archive, as well as pursued and developed an immense amount of new relationships with editorials, brands and creatives.

I think we are all ready to get back to a sense of normalcy and trusting when we do. We'll all have a fresh perspective and appreciation for what it means to create meaningful art, together, in the same space.

Shooting and being creative during COVID was very interesting. I, along with the whole world, was stripped bare. Never has there been a time where the whole world simultaneously stopped.

My girl and I had our first child, Ramona, three days before New York City shut down. It was a challenge enough that we were about to embark on a whole life change, little did we know, two life changes at the same time. Soon after New York shut down, we ended up moving to our small farmhouse in The Catskills. Upstate was stripped down of its vegetation too, just coming out of the height of winter.

With the long days and nights of a newborn, the last thing I had brain power to do was be creative. I knew that I would document Ramona's life, but with a foggy brain. Even that felt like the last thing I wanted to do. I took the approach of shooting Ramona the way the world, Nicole and I felt: stripped down and raw. I kept two of my little film point-and-shoot cameras around me at all times. I shot "us" whenever it came to mind. I didn't think about it too much. I just captured moments as my mind naturally reminded myself to do so.

I didn't develop any of the film for four months. When I finally got it back, wow, it made me want to cry. I could feel every feeling of that exact day each image I went through. I've never had that happen before. I've never taken pictures of something so close to me, but it was an amazing feeling.

Producing most of my work in the streets and at close range with people, this year inevitably set me back a little. I have had to wait for society to relax in order to go out there again and start a new project.

Having said that, the time spent at home was extremely precious for finishing up and reviewing projects I had shot already but could not somehow finish. I spent more time looking through existing work, which is also an essential part of my job just too often undervalued. My hope and strong desire is to get out there again, and shooting projects very much in the nature of what I have always done: Among people, discovering social realities and making new friends. Take it as wishful thinking, but I cannot see it much differently for now.

My approach to photography hasn't changed at all. I've always photographed those close to me in my life and documented essential workers years before it became a global phenomenon due to COVID, simply out of my deep respect to their hard work and because of many other personal reasons.

What has changed is that COVID has brought all those issues on the surface globally and has forced many of us to look inside for questions, for inspirations and answers. Inside our own families, inside our communities, apartments, homes and inside ourselves.

In the beginning of it all I tried to escape it, which resulted into a cross-country drive back to NYC and a quick reality check. Although it may seem that I have been quiet lately, It is not really so. I decided to devote this time to reflect on, edit, print and bring in order already existing work that has accumulated over the years. And currently I am working on building my own studio, a dream of mine for years with another very very special project that I will be able to share in close future.

Also I'm simply looking forward to conversations with strangers, long dinner tables full of friends in busy restaurants, drinks at the noisy bars and all those many tiny little things that fill up our human existence and we took for granted.

I've rapidly embraced the latest technology to enable remote shooting from London, New York, Beijing, Los Angeles. An overnight trip to Paris for Vogue required 14 days of self isolation/ quarantine on my return to the UK. Time for "contemplation." Otherwise, my approach to photography is unchanged, a need to keep creating and moving forward.

Photos courtesy of Spring Studios


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