A snapshot of my personal work during lockdown in singapore
I had always anticipated my stay in Singapore to be a photographic paradise. But our 2020 year looked very different to the year we’d expected. We were travelling and staying with family in Singapore while I was on maternity leave with our youngest son Charlie. With family to help watch the kids, and loads to explore around the region I thought I’d become a travel photographer for a moment. That was no longer an option as Singapore, and the rest of the world, enacted a ‘circuit breaker’ aka lockdown to tackle the growing pandemic. And we all know what this looked like: no unmasked contact with anyone, staying inside your home and only permitted outside for exercise. Definitely no socialising at cafes and restaurants, sightseeing or travel across borders. We missed our community terribly, new friends that we had made in the weeks before and just after Christmas, as well as our friends and family back home. I felt the depression of being locked down creeping into my every day and my hopes and dreams of being a part-time travel photographer dashed.
We were based in an expat community in the northern part of Singapore, in Sembawang. Every day I would take Charlie out for a buggy walk, or I would cycle with Harry (our first born) around the neighbourhood for exercise. We’d wave to our friends from the fence line, and occasionally have stilted conversations from across the road. Those interactions were the total highlight of our day.
I started taking my camera on those walks. Needing to photograph anything to keep my brain alive. And through those walks my idea of capturing our community from the roadside grew. I wanted this for them as much as for me: to have a record of what we were living through.
I put the word out via WhatsApp to our local community; would you like a family photo that captures the essence of your lockdown experience? I would be photographing families from the street on my morning walks. The instruction was to be outside your house at a set time, each person holding one item that represented their lockdown, and be sure to wear your covid mask.
I carried my Sony camera with a long zoom lens on those walks with the buggy and I captured our community from the street. It was a delight to see what each household brought outside their home to represent their lockdown. The resulting pictures featured Lego pirate ships, quilts, beer crates, golf clubs, bikes, baking bowls, champagne... And awesome smiles (even through the masks!) and attitudes for every single photo.
Big takeaways for me from this experience:
- Document your life, it goes so fast
- Sieze the idea and make it happen quickly. Momentum built as families saw the resulting pictures and I soon had a lot of requests from the neighbourhood to photograph their households.
- Be in the photo. Your life and your experience is as valid as every other person’s on the planet.
- There is beauty everywhere you look. You don’t have to travel across borders to be a travel photographer, or to be creative.
I’m so grateful for every aspect of that experience during our year in Singapore. And I’m so grateful to the families who let me document our community during that time <3. Did you photography your family during the pandemic? What records do you have from that exceptional lockdown time?