A glance back at a strange year.
How weird was 2020?
As we approach Christmas and move into 2021 it is a time for reflecting, for looking back at what has happened over the last 12 months.
But, let’s try, for once, and look beyond COVID-19.
This, for me, was an exciting year. I interviewed many great street photographers, looked at goodness knows how many photographs and also worked with and collaborated with some street photographers, wrote about brands and the lockdown.
One personal thought I will share with you is that I actually felt my own work, limited as it was by the restrictions, improved. I learned a great deal by talking with and writing features on some of those street photographers we covered this year.
But I wanted to take a little time to reflect. To choose those photographs, that, for whatever, reason somehow resonated with me this year. That is not to say these are necessarily the best shots, but the ones that stayed with me, that I, personally, really liked and I list them in no particular order.
Copyright ⓒ Melissa Breyer
She stares out at the neon. It says ‘Milk’ and is reflected on the window. She is feeling her way across the transparent wall as she polishes the glass. A metaphor for an aspiring actor polishing her ‘act’, or a writer polishing the novel she is working on, just waiting for a publisher to come along? The spray canister, to her left our right as we look at the photograph, a strategically and maybe tragically placed prop in this subtle life moment.
The really nice touch is the world outside. The car and the building reflected in the glass, which gives us the feeling that she is imprisoned. A sense that she is trapped within her own world, physically and metaphorically, secured to the rocks of labour by the chains of necessity yet dreaming of that freebird that resides inside us all…
Copyright ⓒ Michele Liberti
I guess I just liked the angle from which Michele managed to take this photograph. In taking this wonderful shot of skateboarders, the street photographer inadvertently captures the distinctive swoosh of the omnipresent Nike logo – and, of course – how can we ever escape that?
Copyright ⓒ Angela Ambrosini
Angela Ambrosini’s barefoot Christlike figure stands on the edge of the sidewalk, contemplating stepping out into heavy traffic. It is, at once, religious, spiritual and tragic, touching us with compassion and curiosity. Our concern for our fellow human in crisis, but what is he doing? Has he been pushed too far by the unbearable stresses of everyday existence? The unrelenting hollowness of existence for the great majority of humanity?
Copyright ⓒ Markus Andersen
The girl looks out of the photo at the camera, she is pretty, orange hair, black-collared floral shirt and a comic-book-cum-manga background that jams with the foreground. She looks curious. What is she thinking?
This for me is also cinematic. Powerful art, bright sunshine lights her face, the colours fly out at you. There is something drawing the viewer in, is she frowning, is she at the point of being annoyed, there is tension on her face and Andersen has captured this.
Copyright ⓒ Marcin Baran
In one black and white shot, one young woman who is on the steps of a train carriage holds the hand of another in, what seems like, a long, lingering, maybe even tearful, goodbye. This shot was taken on a platform at Katowice station, Poland. And, those questions are starting to emerge. Who are they? Are they lovers? Sisters? Why do they look so sad?
Copyright ⓒ John Conn
A woman adorned with biblical quotes and religious placards passes a group of people on the street. They look askance at her, bemused, while all around them are the big, colourful and garish signs of capitalism. On this paradoxical stage of humility and profit, people take their choice in the urban landscape.
We catch ourselves asking what drives this woman? She wears a bib which also signifies her belief. But, why does she feel this extraordinary need to convert, or attempt to convert those around her and declare her faith so openly?
A layered photograph where Christianity brushes against urban capitalism in all of its branding and logos and slogans – a bit like religion?
Copyright ⓒ Penelope McMorris
A blurred figure, a grey-haired bespectacled man, who could be Arthur Millar with his back to us sits at a bus stop, but a woman who could be Marilyn Monroe, no less, is staring at him from the poster. What is he thinking? He doesn’t even seem to be aware of the icon watching him. Yet, it is a poignant portrait of Monroe. Is she looking out from beyond the grave with so much to tell? Is she willing the unidentified man to look her way, so that their eyes can connect and she can relay her secrets by mind power?
Is it Arthur Miller who outlived his former wife by over 40 years?