« Open Mike: If You Like Light (OT) | Main | Hip to be Square »

Thursday, 08 July 2021


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The pandemic rekindled my interest in instant film - I spent my economic stimulus payment on a trio of Fuji Instax cameras (Mini, Square and Wide) and a whole lot of Instax instant film. To my surprise, the Instax Mini format proved the most creative, largely because the camera's exposure limits in bright light often resulted in overexposure:

Instax Mini 9, 1/60 f/32 ISO800

The pandemic effected my photography because I sublimated my desire to go out and shoot by mindlessly clicking on "add to cart" often on the slightest whim.

I bought three cameras and eight lenses that I almost certainly had redundancy in some other gear.

If I could have gone out shooting freely, I'd be thinking more about making my (then) current gear work for what I needed it to do rather than chasing some potential capability. I'd have thousands of photos and thousands of dollars if not for the pandemic.

BTW... I do think the pandemic caused a low grade depression in me. I bought Peter Turnley's Covid book, and try as I might, I haven't been able to look at the excellent photos within. It's like having PTSD without the P. Can't wait until this chapter of world history is ancient history.

Definitely. For both better and worse.

I'm a typical hobbyist all-rounder when it comes to subject matter. In my head I'm a bit of a landscape photographer, out in the hills with a tripod and a bag of filters. Over the lockdown, when I couldn't go anywhere, I ended up watching a lot of youtube videos of people doing that sort of thing, and I was itching to get out and take some pictures.

Problem is, since I've been able to get out and do just that, I've realised that I'm not much of a landscape photographer.

On the wall next to my desk are taped prints of about 20 photos, and the ones that I like best aren't landscapes - they're things like windows of buildings in foreign cities. Quite accidentally, there are four in a row, from Lisbon, Vilnius and Pula. I've realised the thing I like most is finding things which are new and foreign to me - and the pandemic has certainly curtailed that.

I still like the process of getting out and pretending I'm a landscape photographer - I enjoy it all, bar the point when I get the pictures on the computer and realise they're not very good. But at least I have lower expectations of myself now, and clearer idea of what I do want to shoot.

Pre-pandemic, most of my photography was done during out-of-town trips or at local events. During the pandemic I found myself with a lot of time, no travel permitted and all events cancelled.

I started taking my camera with me on walks around Falls Church. The resulting photos feature local trails, signs, flowers, houses and businesses instead of famous landmarks and vistas. I learned to look for beautiful and interesting subjects close to home.

I also took some time to organize my film negatives and prints. I even made contact sheets for all of the negatives. I have scanned some of the negatives and made larger prints, something I always meant to do but never got around to.

The above paraphrases the artist statements for two entries I submitted to an exhibit called “A Year Apart: Art Created in Isolation” from Falls Church Arts in Falls Church, Virginia. It will run from July 31 through September 12, 2021, and is for art created during and inspired by the pandemic in all media, not just photography. You're not the only one wondering.

From a technical perspective, I've learned how to sync between Lightroom Classic on my desktop and Lightroom on my iPhone and iPad. This has made it much easier to share photos, mostly on Instagram (link below).

I’ve been extremely cautious since the pandemic started, I think even more than I need to. I have two little kids and I’m terrified of anything happening to them (if they get Covid or if my wife and I get Covid and won’t be here for them).

So, yes, the pandemic has affected my photography big time, I have not been going outside with my camera at all lately. That’s the glass half empty.

The glass half full is that I spend a lot more time at the computer browsing my old pictures. We all know what our better/best pictures are, so I devoted myself to look at the others with different eyes. I found a few keepers that I just didn’t notice before, they just needed to get to the darkroom.

The COVID shutdown in New Jersey coincided with a move from our home of 47 years to a newer building just four miles away. Neither the shutdown nor the move did my photography any good. In the last twelve months I exposed just eight rolls of film, compared with about fifty rolls the previous year. Worse yet, there were only two or three keepers on those eight rolls.

Yes, and in a negative way. I mostly photograph people. I stopped working on my “Class of ‘69” project for obvious reasons. The last one of those I shot was in a nursing home. I wasn’t happy with that photo and intended to go back and try again, but things shut down before I could. I had planned to start another documentary project that I put on hold. Will probably wait until next year to see if it’s still a possibility. I went a full year without taking any serious photos. Just starting to get going again in the past few months.

I had two overseas trips planed and of course cancelled in 2020. Travel is a big photo opportunity for me, so I missed that. To balance, I did manage to make some nice photos of family members. I took cameras (one at a time!) on walks and the like, but don't feel like I was very creative on those outings in general.

I finished scanning most of my paper prints, color and B&W, from 50 years of photography. Those represent perhaps 5 percent of my negatives!

Great question- one for which I'm anxious to hear the replies... For anyone who mines their photographic opportunities from their surrounding urban streets- less people equals less photographic opportunities. That's a simple enough equation! The pandemic forced me to reconsider my overall opportunities. I tried getting more 'creative,' I took my first digital panoramics- fun at first, but it amounted to a handful at most. I then concentrated on the apocalyptic empty street scenarios- they turned out more empty, than apocalyptic.

Last year, protests broke out throughout the country; truth be told, certain people's misery and misfortune translated into some much needed photo ops- certainly not the first time. But as those activities dwindled, it was back to the current reality.

I continued to concentrate on tell tale signs that directly or indirectly signified life in a pandemic, eventually enough to make a somewhat coherent essay which I then self published. It's this coming year that I'm even more apprehensive about with this rather slow, neither here nor there turn around...

I do a little bit of stock photography. I live in Oxford (UK) and despite the market prospects I don't do much here because of endless buses, cars and pedestrians.

But during lockdown ... voila!

I just wish I had a photo from normal times as a comparison. People familiar with Oxford will know what I mean

I mostly photograph people, so the pandemic had a great effect on my picture-making. In fact, just before things really locked down, I had just had a couple 8-foot tall studio flats built. The idea was to set them up at an angle affixed to one another with a welder's clamp in the back yard facing North -- kind of like a poor man's outdoor studio. I was going to have friends and neighbors come and sit -- or stand -- for portraits in this little created photo-world.

So now it is two years later. I have used the flats a number of times; enough to know my concept works the way I want it to. But I really would like to start that stream of people arriving, maybe grill some veggies and brats to induce my sitters to stay for a while. Time to dust everything off and pick up where I left off.

Actually, I found an inage of the same street (Oxford High Street) in normal times but looking back to where my original photo was taken (not that you can see it!)

One of the other big things I noticed during lockdown was the total absence of contrails in the sky. A boon for a lot of photographers I guess.

The pandemic caused me to start a project that's now been going for 14 months.

The project is about what people are doing differently under the lockdown, and that's what I tell my subjects before I asked to take their photos. But other photos are candids, or of inanimate objects that are the result of what people are doing differently. There's also a few self portraits and photos of my own life; I'm doing different things too.

How has this affected my photography? I've started and kept with a project, something I've never done before. But the first thing I did, before I took a single photo, was think hard about what I wanted to do until I came up with the simple explanation above.

Until I had that description of my aims in a single short and clear sentence, I was not ready to begin, for I did not know what I wanted to do. Now I have that description, it influences how and when and why I take every project photo.

If you want to see photos from the project, I've published many of them on my blog (the link's below). There are 32 posts with 238 photos, so far. I didn't think the project would go on so long.

I shot film again. I learned photography 20 years ago on film shooting old manual focus 35mm Canon cameras because they and the lenses were comparatively cheaper than autofocus. But for the last 15 years or so I've been entirely digital. Then I discovered I could use my M43 gear as a 'scanner' for film. I started dabbling in film prior to the pandemic, but I think the pandemic was fuel to the fire. Over the last year and a half or so I've cycled through a Pentax 67 and lenses, Fuji 645s, some old folders, Pentax MX, Canon Ftb and some others. But, while it was fun to revisit, I think I'm over it. I suppose nostalgia or a desire for 'simpler times' was perhaps part of the motivation. Film is a pain! (Maybe in a good way?)

I think the pandemic was great for my photography as it gave me the time and, in many ways, the drive to pursue some personal work. With my commercial work crushed, it forced me to try to reinvent/reenvision myself, even if only for the short term, in the art photography space.

My commercial work was hit severely for approximately 14 months with a huge resurgence in late May that I'm hoping will continue as we come into the busy fall months.

Photographically, I am better for the pandemic. Economically, not so much. The longterm jury on the impacts of the pandemic for me are still out.

It kind of put the kibosh on that large-format portrait project.

Mostly my photographs are of events I attend, conventions and parties, and then a lot of the rest were of roller derby bouts. And I didn't do any of that for a year or so. So yeah, there was a lot less of my photography. I did do one special project (which I almost never do), that you were kind enough to feature on TOP.

It has slowed it to a crawl from which I am just recovering. I have actually gone days without even picking up a camera, unheard of a year ago. We go to our apartment in Provence in 7 weeks and I am trying to get up to speed.

Pre-pandemic I was a keen street photographer in London. In the thick of it I went out at night to take seascapes and now I am fascinated by the local ancient woodland. The process has taught me that I'm basically documenting my life, it's all the same thing.

Did the pandemic affect my photography? Yes, but indirectly.
Due to poor business, my regular darkroom supplier downsized and reduced the variety of products.
According to them, Singapore lost its Kodak agent so I cannot get HC-110 and Dektol.
Due to group gathering restrictions, I miss hanging out with my photo shoot gang.....plus a few others.


For the ten months previous to the pandemic I was in India with camera and pen trying to wrap up years of amateur photography in India into something that might survive. Why would anyone today expect their “amateur” photography to survive? I’m so old now that my photographic world view was formed in that time when it wasn’t just in porn that being an “amateur“ was a good thing.

I wasn’t looking for a safe way to store my photographic life like an Egyptian mummy awaiting a future life. There are too many amateur photographers now to expect any of us might get the new photographic life that Vivian Maier’s images got. That’s the whole problem right there. There are too many pictures, how can I interest the world in mine?

Photo blogging hadn’t worked for me, as it has for you. But, I now have a story to tell— a 50,000 word profusely illustrated travel adventure that will be downloadable from Amazon or Kobo and read on those popular new slender hand-held digital devices. Or, maybe, it would be better to say that I know that if I can pull this off, I’ll have something unique enough to keep my street photography alive.

Just as I got that final round of Indian images and stories back to the USA the government ordered me to shelter in place. I felt like the world had conspired to ensure that I would finish the damn project. An editor is now assessing the book. A year in government mandated solitary confinement ain’t so bad when you’ve got a book to write and a portfolio to print.


The number of photos and videos of my 4yo daughter increased by a lot. On the other hand, as we return to semi-normality here, I sure noticed that my street photography skills are rusty. I find that street photography resembles physical exercise in the regard, it's something which requeires constant practice to maintain a satisfactory level.

This last few weeks I've been photographing a lot on the streets (around 7km of walking around taking photos almost everyday) to produce enough material to enter a photo contest. I'm feeling my photos are getting back on track. Coincidentally I've also returned to swim training and, even if I'm still far from the level of 1,5 years ago, I'm steadily noticing the "old me" coming back.

Yes. I was actually able to do some for a change. Also, I lost 10 kgs, starting sleeping well and my energy levels came back to where they were 10 years ago. In all honesty, 2020 was the most enjoyable year out the last 8 years for me.

Such a great question for reflection on a hard, but not a universally terrible year. Even though here in Melbourne, Australia, we spent a good portion of the year in a hard lockdown (5km travel limit radius; mandatory masks; shopping for essentials only; one hour for outdoor exercise per day), I still managed to shoot 97 rolls of film—substantially more for me than in the recent past.
I only realised the higher-than-usual output when I went to file my latest negs and found I was out of sleeves! I can't say was my highest-quality work, but it's an important record for me and my family and it really helped to get me through a tough year. Thank heavens for cheap-ish B&W film and D-76!

"Did the pandemic affect your photography?" may need to be reframed "Is the pandemic affecting your photography," at a time when locally [Arkansas/Missouri] cases are skyrocketing again, ICUs filling up and one hospital a couple of hours away from me had to borrow ventilators from another facility, since theirs were all in use. I hope others are faring better and that this will fade once again.

That said, I find I am back to exploring some rural farms, other buildings in small communities in my region that I had photographed in the 1990s. Some are profoundly transformed. It's becoming a project with no mask required. Working title: "Empty Footsteps."

Just as things were starting to pick up last spring, BOOM! Official shut down of my biz by Gov. Newsome as he declared it "unessential." Still recovering a year latter on that facist of my photography. On the othe hand, getting out to "social isolate" to photograph was permitted and that I did. I simply went to photograph within a day's drive, mostly by myself and enjoyed the break and favorite rural places with even fewer people. I decided to upgrade my iPhone and then started having a blast. Finally had the image quality I could accept and the new iPhone had a pair of lenses. I set the format to square and shot it like I did my old & favorite Rollieflex with the added bonus of being able to process the photos all on the same little brick. Today, I'm still having a blast shooting with my phone. Business picked up a little, though not as much as fast as last year. It's a lost year for my biz but still a creative time in spite of it all. Had I not been lazy, it may have been a good time to dust off the film cameras and shoot, but in the mean time I purchased a lens adaptor and still had fun with the vintage lenses!

What a coincidence! The Camera Store TV is having a live YouTube session with photographer Leah Hennel who has been documenting Calgary during The COVID pandemic (https://youtu.be/dKufE6GGCBg). Great images, but maybe a little bit too heavy on the "clarity" filter.

I’m seeing that book everywhere at the moment but really want a peek at the pictures before ordering.

Which reminds me! If anyone wants a copy of Dave Heath’s Multitude Solitide I bout it aight unseen and though it’s clearly a masterful monologue the work doesn’t speak to me and I’d be happy to let it go cheaply to someone who’d appreciate it. (It’s ok though, Mike, because I did the same thing with Here Far Away and it’s still an incredible delight.)

LOL - less time behind the lens, more time in front of a certain auction site shopping for lenses.
Short-term bad, but I’m hoping medium to longer term it’ll be better.
Time will tell.

”Nothing like a little disaster for sorting things out.”
- “Thomas” (David Hemmings), “Blow-Up”, 1966

Short answer: yes.

2020 was a year of remarkable change and discovery for me. Thankfully, bunkered with the best friend and companion I could ever wish for (my wife), we emerged healthy. I even managed to make two more books that I’m very happy with.

It would be inappropriate to present a full account of how the pandemic changed my photographic perceptions and processes here. And who cares, anyway? So I’ll just reply that it taught me that I could never have been a photojournalist. My ability to remove myself from a scene and subject turns out to be weak. After an hour or two wandering through my abandoned city I would begin to simply fall apart and have to stop.

Downtown Chicago, 2020


So it has taught me to better appreciate and more closely observe life around me.

State Street, Chicago, April, 2021

The pandemic affected my photography immensely. My habit was to go to a variety of coffeehouses, shooting in and around them 4-5 days per week. I had been doing this since you published your "Digital Variant" back in 2014. I even had an exhibit titled "I Took My Camera Out for Coffee". With the pandemic, the coffeehouses either closed totally or you could not sit inside and drink your coffee.
My main subject matter was pulled out from under me. I was adrift. Didn't know what to shoot. I still did morning walks, but dropped to 2-3 days per week. Shot anything I could find appealing, but without a focus or theme. In the end, it might be good, but still now, I have lost my confidence shooting images with people in them, and my work, while I am getting some good individual images, has lost direction and emphasis. I hope I "find myself" soon.

If running up and down the back roads of California’s Central Valley for the past year trying to find things to shoot counts, then yes, the pandemic has affected my photography… and not in a good way.

Certain events and locales I used to shoot at are gone, likely never to return. So life, at least from a photographic standpoint, is a little bleaker than it was before March 2020...

I missed not shooting local bicycle races. OTOH, I have put a prime on the body now and then and shot some B&W pics of deserted urban scenes. It's probably the closest I'll come to eliminating cars from street scenes.

Yes it has, and generally for the good. In addition to the pandemic, my husband was hospitalized for three weeks with a blood infection, then spent another six weeks on at home intravenous drips, all before going through daily radiation treatment (thankfully successful) for cancer. In the middle of that I fell, broke a hip and was given a new one. It was quite a year and we seriously isolated ourselves but were surprisingly happy throughout the whole time. To keep myself busy, and rather than doing the massive household organization that many people did, I took several photography courses (via Zoom) from a local college. Apart from the Photoshop class, I can't say that I learned much that was new to me, but the courses gave me structure and goals - and some social contact. For two courses I limited myself to using one camera, one lens, and only making photos with things in our house, our yard, and from the grocery store (the only shop we visited during that time). For a third course, I followed the same rules but allowed myself a second lens. The result? I looked more closely, thought more deeply, and produced some of my best work ever. One of my highlights was presenting the final project for one of the courses from my hospital bed the day after my hip was replaced.
I certainly missed the international travel we had planned, but I learned that I don't need it as much as I thought I did. In some strange way, it was a good year. And the household organization still isn't done.

I spent the early part of the pandemic focusing on making music. It was a great escape. When I started thinking about photography again I started combing through my archive and fired up the printer. In the spring I photographed my local neighborhood, started exploring still life, and self-published a book of photos I took on Valentine's Day right before the pandemic. Now, I'm just starting to get back to some of my normal routines. All in all, it could have been worse.

I like taking pictures of people so my photography suffered. On the other hand, I completed a couple of writing projects.

Swings and roundabouts.

When the lockdowns began in March 2020, I became reluctant to leave the house, particularly with my camera—I think I saw it as a trivial thing to do that might offend people. It wasn't clear whether fomite transmission was a significant thing (it isn't) and quite how dangerous it was outdoors passing people on the street (not very). But the weather was nice in the summer of 2020 and so I did venture out a bit and photograph.

The winter of 2020-21 was the worst. I walked less than ever and left the house mostly just for grocery shopping. For me, it was psychologically draining, though I know at least one person who benefitted greatly from the isolation. This year, since April and May, I've been out photographing again in my local area and walking quite a bit.The photographs are entirely mundane but I like them and that's important.

There are things I've realised, or remembered, during the past 15 months. One is that travel is a wonderful thing. I travelled a lot in 2019 and I'm so glad I did, particularly to meet friends and some people I deeply care about who live far away. Another is that photographing while out walking is one of the best ways for me to spend my time. It doesn't earn me money but it helps me do the things that do earn me money. I know it's an old cliché to describe photography as therapy but it feels like a real life-saver to me.

Another thing: for the periods when I was mostly indoors, time moved very, very fast, as it does when I'm making few new memories. Now, though it's still moving too quickly for comfort (as it does for many people my age—I'm 52), it's manageable. Something else to be thankful for this summer.

It destroyed my business, potentially ending a 38 year career. I don’t see much chance of recovery before this time next year. At least I survived Covid itself.

[Very sorry to hear that about your business Tom. --Mike]

I have two clients that have kept me in business for twenty years, all catalog/product work. During the pandemic, I received more work than the previous couple of years. Not complaining, but I did cut back on my campervan trips (landscape/small town photography). Now things are slowly getting back to normal and my campervan trips have been back in place for a few months.

The Snow Moon 2021


working from home allowed me to get up early in the morning and go shoot & also go shoot late afternoon rather than waste hours commuting. And to go back to the darkroom. And, to seriously learn how to scan negatives. And to seriously learn how to read light. And to shoot less.

So I bought 2 dozen (I am serious) inexpensive 35mm film cameras (plus some MF), tons of lenses, and tested a variety of film vs developer combinations.

Some camera curiosities: Kalloflex 6x6; Mamiya 6 (the old one) with a terrific Zuiko 7.5cm folder, and a Bessaflex ™.

Other cameras: Konicas, Minoltas, Olympus, Canon AE-1, EOS-FM, Nikons, etc.

Lenses included some Hexanons, Fujinons, Olympus, and a rare Koki Komura.

Film included FP4, HP5+, Acros, TMAX-100 and 400, and some of the cheaper ones around.

Developers included Rodinal, ID-11, XTOL, Prescysol-EF and Caffenol.

I did settle on the following (and am selling nearly all else):

Olympus OM-4 with a 100mm f/2.8 lens
Nikon F with the simple pentaprism, Nikkor 24mm f/2.8, 28mm f/2.8 AiS, 55mm micro (compensating) and 105mm Gauss Ai

And, Ilford FP4+ with Ilford ID-11, printed on Moab Entrada Rag Textured mainly.

some (unfinished site, really) images here: https://www.pailhouse.com/copy-of-fine-art-tree-photography

To me, it was an incredibly satisfying and productive year, from this point of view. But I grieve for the millions who died and had their lives permanently altered for worse.

The pandemic and its lockdowns would have been the perfect time to do a lot of darkroom work. Alas, I no longer have a darkroom, nor do I shoot film.

But as it turned out, I have spent a lot of time on photoshop, and organizing my digital files, though I'm still behind in tagging a massive backlog of images properly. Also, I'm still putting off selecting and paying for long-term online storage.

I'm beginning to think that it would simply be easier to choose a couple of thousand of the best images, and get them printed out onto Fuji Crystal Archive paper by a commercial printer, and put them away in a box someplace.

Nice responses to this posted question. I didn’t exspect much, maybe a lot of complaints, but there is a wealth of creative outlets and ideas here… worth saving and reviewing again.

Borrowed a friends medium format scanner and re-connected with my 80s collection of negatives and transparencies Here in the greater Sydney region we are locked down probably for another 3 weeks, looking forward to assembling a portrait exhibition all shot on film.

I stopped using a camera and started using an iPhone more. not a conscious decision but it happened. The iPhone was always with me on my walks, but the reasons for me to carry a camera didn't happen.

I would have photographed the four new additions we have to the family but of course I haven't met them yet.

What has changed for the better though is that I decided I would follow every link on every post and 'comment' here at TOP.
It has given me a lot of pleasure to see some the great work commenters do, and also some of the far-off places they photograph that I have visited myself in years gone by.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007