Personal project/Talking to Strangers: a photo series developed from the basic need to feel connected during a time of forced isolation during lockdown. Wanting to dissolve my fears and the fears of others that were felt from COVID-19 by connecting with strangers I encounter on my daily walk in Hackney. Moving away from the image of living in a dystopian nightmare to reveal a sense of hope and joy.
“The most important things to me that I am wearing today is the diamond cross, it was a gift from my grandmother when I was 10 – I wear it every day and it makes me think of her. And obviously the mask. When all of this first started, I wasn’t too scared, and I thought the media were exaggerating but that changed very quickly, and now I am indoors most of the time and always wear a mask when I go out – not just for me but for the safety of others. It can feel edgy out on the streets sometimes and a general feeling of confusion because of the uncertainty but today is a good day, the sun is shining, and I am happy.” Finnlay
Martine “It has been a journey. We didn’t know each other before I moved here in March. We met in January. Went on one date in Denmark. Then Sam flew to Paris where I was living, to meet me.
Sam “As soon as I left Paris, we went into lockdown and I thought oh my god, what are we going to do. We spent hours everyday on FaceTime.”
Martine “I had to empty out my apartment in Paris and there were no flights back to Denmark, so I started to look at how I could get to see Sam because he was the thing my life was revolving around. I figured out that I could get on the Eurostar but it was very risky, being in Paris was like moving round a war zone and I had to really think about coming to London and being in the presence of someone I had only just met – this would be make or break but I knew I was in love with him.”
Sam “Martine had to get a letter from the French Embassy giving her permission to travel.”
Martine “My mum thought I was out of my mind, she thought I was crazy. Obviously she had never met Sam and couldn’t understand why he was so important. But my grandparents were like if you really want to go through something like this to see him, then he must be very special.”
Sam “Before moving to Hackney with Martine, I was living with my mum and brother in a small house in Luton, so it meant that Martine would be living with us there. My mum spoke on the phone to Martine a few times and wanted her to come and stay. It was a challenge learning to live together, but my mum was pleased to have a girl in the house and Martine and my brother are now like best friends.” Sam + Martine
“I have missed not seeing my friends and not skating with my friends, and I miss seeing them at school, but I think my mum is a better teacher. And it’s been good having more time to spend with my dad and making really nice dinners – you know because he is a chef. When I have been feeling low I go for a skate even if it’s just outside my house because it makes me feel happy.” Sol
“Music is a hobby I love doing, when I’m not working issuing parking fines. But I got diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, so I have been spending a lot of time indoors – kinda preparing for this pandemic. I think everyone should get tested and don’t be scared or think you’re too masculine to get it sorted – no one is too tough for this – it’s one of those things that if you leave it, it can get you. I am on stage 3, and I had no symptoms. So, right now I focus on getting my life back together and appreciate it as much as I can – today is good, the sun is shining and I’m feeling bubbly.” Steve
“I suppose there is a general understanding in lockdown that most people have just popped out of the house for 5 minutes, so I might wear a bra with tracksuit bottoms to the shop and expect people to be okay with it, which they are – London is a good place to be experimental. Isolation means I think more about what I am going to wear, even if it’s just underwear and socks. I am lovesick, and I have been very upset – so as I put my underwear on, I think well at least I can maybe look cute whilst I cry.” Lucy
” During lockdown I have been keeping myself busy, with a lot of faffing – if I want to flip the script, I do a bit of DIY. Yesterday, I tidied my flat, I fixed my sofa that had been broke for about 3 months, so I cut it up and screwed it up and now I don’t have one bum cheek that falls through it.” Timur
“I am from South Korea and my Mum is very worried about me and keeps telling me ‘please wear a mask and gloves when you go out’ and so I feel like I have to wear them to make sure my mum is okay and it’s good to prevent and as respect, it is good for other people as well. I like being at home and working from home but sometimes it gets lonely. I was just watching YouTube about making cheesecake, so I had to come and get some – I am hoping it will cheer me up.” Soo Soo
“In this moment I take a pause and I am reminded how different life is, but I feel connection, even though we are in this distant circumstance. If you have your freedom taken away and you are resistant, there is no point fighting it, you have to adapt, because if you don’t you go crazy. In my personal case, adapting is not negative it is based on my optimism. You know I am not a rocket scientist, I am not going to discover the vaccine, but I know I can carry on being resilient and get on with my life the best way I know how.” Louis
“So, I started this project, where I take a picture of myself every day on my bed – it is a documentation of my mental state and ways in which I deal with my situation and being confined, and what it does to my brain. It has given me something to do during the day and gives me structure but also it has given me a reason to go bit a mad and explore my inner workings and reflect them in a picture.” Berit
“I made this mask with the help of my friend because I am not the best at sewing. The fabric is stitched onto an existing mask with a filter. I made it before lockdown because I thought if it gets serious and we have to wear a mask outside, at least I can still look stylish. I would describe my look as glam rock punk. Today I feel pretty good because I gave myself an objective which was going to the fabric shop. No matter how small, each night I make a loose plan about what I am going to do tomorrow and it gives me a purpose for the next day.” Aidan