Sarah Lee | Lockdown London
When the Covid19 virus arrived in the UK at the beginning of 2020, Sarah Lee, a busy working London photographer, found herself having to stop work and avoid people in order to protect her partner who was in a medically vulnerable position.
For someone who is used to making pictures on a daily basis, having to stop using a camera and creating can affect your sense of self and purpose. Sarah started to document her life under lockdown, at first with her iPhone and later with her Leica M10. The pictures included views from her apartment windows of the sun setting over Camden or the rain on the glass but soon she was out making regular rides on her bike, passing through the empty city streets, around her neighbourhood as well as further a field, through Hyde Park over the Serpentine and down to the Thames at the heart of the City.
Sarah is used to photographing a lot of beautiful portraits for The Guardian but on her cycles through the streets of London she found herself drawn to small and subtle scenes, some beautiful light, the corner of a building against the blue sky, shadows and reflections.
Over the following months a sensitive poem of locked down London developed, sparse with people but rich with atmosphere and the beauty of details that usually go ignored when the city is it’s noisy, bustling pre-Covid self.
I remember lots of chat earlier this year with friends where we all dreaded that this would be so much worse when the days got short. Not much of a surprise to find out we were all spot on.
It’s not been an easy time. But the daily exercise. The sense of going somewhere. Seeing things. And emotional support girder of photography. Enjoying light, detail. Ways of seeing etc. So glad I discovered cycling. These past, hard, months would have been far bleaker without that.
As the year passed from Summer to Autumn and the afternoons darkened, Sarah ventured out making pictures of the City at night lit by lamps and signs and buildings in all weathers.
The guy on the right in this shot asked me why I was standing in several inches of water taking a photo. “Because it’s sort of beautiful” I said. “Not if you see it every bloody day it isn’t” he said. A “beautiful” (depending on your view point) burst water main on Linden Gardens seen on my evening bike ride today.