Make five portraits of five different people from your local area who were previously unknown to you.
Initially, I had intended to base Assignment 1 on the ideas gleaned from the ‘Training Humans’ exhibition held recently at Osservatorio Fondazionbe Prada. I spent a day at the exhibition in Milan on 12 February. (A ‘detour’: when arriving in Milan I was surprised to be tested for Covid19 at Linate Airport. There were absolutely no social distancing measures in place despite Central Milan being rammed with people. ‘End of detour).
The Duomo de Milano closed on Monday 24 February. By then I realise COVID-19 outbreak meant that Training Humans as an approach would not be possible. Close-up portraits of strangers simply would not be possible. But outside photographs, particularly in the slightly distanced style of August Sander would be possible. In terms of a typological theme, I decided to photograph individuals showing the effects of the Covid19 social distancing measures.
The Sander’s style, that is to say, a full-length portrait orientation, a short depth of field, and with some element of the background hinting as to the role of the individual. Sander’s used this in his German societal typologies.of the 1920s.
Initially, the assignment went well. I secured two successful images outside of the deserted Portsmouth Football Club ground prior to the game’s intended kickoff on 14 March. I wanted to feature the empty car park with its blue fencing signifying forcible exclusion.
But having decided to assist with the isolation of my 97-year-old mother this public approach needed to stop. So the final three images were taken of strangers who had occasion to visit me in the last few days at home.
Taken before Portsmouth’s postponed match against Accrington Stanley on Saturday 14 March. It shows Richard outside the deserted car park at Fratton Park. Originally from Norfolk (and a Norwich supporter) Richard, not realising the match had been called off, had come to work in a food kiosk. Asking why I would want to take his portrait he told me he always spoils a good photo. On the contrary, I find his face captivating. It speaks of his life. We spoke of his life in South Africa working in the book business. He thanked me for taking an interest. What a privilege to meet him.
Taken before Portsmouth’s postponed match against Accrington Stanley on Saturday 14 March. It shows Wayne pushing his daughter outside the deserted car park at Fratton Park. We discussed the situation at Pompey. I asked where he would have been had the match not been cancelled. He said ‘normally down the pub by now’. Instead, they were off to B&Q.
Taken in my back garden. Alan, the Certas Energy oil delivery driver, delivering fuel for my heating system.
Taken outside my front door. Louise kindly brought over some food to tide us by as we wait for a delivery from Tesco. Any hope of social conversation has been replaced by social distancing and a reluctance to engage on both sides.
Again taken outside my front door. Joe has just delivered a new freezer for me as mine is playing up. Unfortunately little chance of conversation.