Lockdown in London - Capturing the Deserted Streets of Soho
Updated: Oct 26, 2020
The capital captured like never before during quarantine.
On March 23rd London & the rest of the UK lockdown was announced due to the ongoing worldwide pandemic of Corvid-19. The people of this great city locked their doors and hibernated from the invisible threat that sought to tear their families apart. It was (and still is) a very weird time to live in London. It is a sprawling metropolis that never sleeps, a city where you could once, party all night, shop whenever you please and at all times be surrounded by people wherever you go - it is now a ghost town. The west end of London in particular is famous for its nightlife, culture and tourist attractions, yet now, its famous institutions sit dormant and unfrequented. Who knows when we will be able to return to 'normality', but right now at least we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, restrictions are being gradually lifted in the UK and positive news of things getting better in Spain and Italy gives hope that we can soon bounce back too.
I felt compelled to do something positive during this time and document lockdown in London. A (hopefully) once in a lifetime opportunity to see the capital devoid of crowds and capture the lonely souls sneaking out to stock their fridges or walk their dogs. On two occasions I travelled up to Soho during lockdown to shoot my series of editorial photographs. Once on a sunny day and then deliberately on a very rainy Monday.
The point of my trip was to capture the emptiness and general eeriness of Soho which for anyone who has visited will know, is one of the most vibrant parts of London. Even on your typical drizzly Monday, the streets will be teeming with people from around the world, pubs will be full of drinkers sheltering from the rain and thousands of office workers will be scurrying to and from their desks. Not now.
Visiting while the heavens had opened really added to the 'end of days' feeling that the city had at that time and you could sense how lockdown in London had stripped the life out of the city centre. I must say that this all sounds like doom and gloom, but on my travels I did see smiles behind the masks. At a safe distance people were still friendly and as a nation of people we have always had a great ability to overcome the worst and look forward positively - this shone through in many of the people I saw across these two days.
On my subsequent trips back into the west end I could see that people were starting to emerge from the shadows due to lockdown measures being eased across the country. With the recent warm weather the public have been (rightly or wrongly) filling London's parks to soak up the sun and saying their prayers to the pubs serving takeaway beers. So I feel very pleased that I managed to capture a moment in time that, as I said hopefully will never be repeated.
October 2020 Update