Chorlton Lockdown Portraits project
Manchester photographer Mark Hobbs photographed and recorded the everyday experiences of passers-by his front yard over the three Covid-19 lockdowns during 2020-21
On the 23rd March, the UK entered its first nationwide lockdown. The regular patterns of our daily lives radically changed overnight. Everything stopped; most workplaces, shops and schools closed and everyone was restricted to a maximum of one hour a day outside. Things we had always taken for granted, from walking the dog to popping to get milk, suddenly become something to plan ahead. Even stepping out of your front door had become a consideration.
Whilst we were bombarded by the relentless national and international news coverage, I wanted to document how the pandemic affected the day-to-day lives of my local community, having to adapt to this extraordinary situation. I set up a wooden backdrop in my front yard and asked passers-by to stop for a moment and have their portrait taken (from five metres away).
I ran the project over the three national lockdowns, between March 2020 and April 2021, and asked the participants to email me their stories and experiences of life during lockdown. Two hundred and twenty people took part in the project, and this photobook features over fifty of their portraits and stories.
I hope the photobook documents and shares the myriad of real people's stories, both positive and negative, that this strange and difficult year has thrown upon us all.
The project started in early April 2020 as something to do for a month or so while everything returned to normal- little did I know at the time we had two more lockdowns and over a year of this to come. Living on quite a busy road, I noticed there were people still walking by despite the “ghost town” effect of the announcement.
I improvised the backdrop from a wooden stand I’d made for a previous exhibition, and experimented with the set up for an afternoon. I used the board to separate the subject and make them stand out, but still reference that we were outside in the yard, and they had just walked off the street. I asked people to stand as they’d come, still holding their bags, their bike or accompanied by their dog. I spent time chatting to people about their current situation, how they’d been doing during lockdown, and let this inform the portrait.
The photobook will be 104 pages long, with over fifty colour portraits, available as either hardback or paperback. It is self published and designed by Mark, with help from Alan Ward, Gail Mellows and Bridget Coaker- a huge thank you to them all. The book contains over fifty portraits from the project, accompanied by the participants’ stories. Each section will be introduced by a brief look at key dates and events leading up to and during each lockdown.
A5, approx 148mm x 210mm
104 pages, 170 gsm paper
First edition of 100 hardback copies and 200 paperback copies will be printed
Release date: 5th November 2021, sent out shortly afterwards
Sample pages above
Why am I asking you to pre-order via Crowdfunder?
This personal project has been entirely self-funded, and by pre-ordering a copy of the photobook through crowdfunding, it will help absorb the costs of production without a large initial personal outlay. The print run is guaranteed to go ahead, but this will also help me manage the number of copies that need to be produced.
Thank you to everyone who supports this project, it really means so much, thanks, Mark.
I would be very grateful if you can help spread the word of this campaign on your social pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or follow me @markhobbsphoto_ for announcements, photos, and upcoming events.
Mark is documentary and portrait photographer. He took up full time photography in 2018 after an eighteen-year detour via his previous work in construction and bringing up a young family. It began when he was selected for Redeye’s development programme Lightbox in 2017-18, culminating in his well-received exhibition 'Big Stick'.
His work has subsequently been shown across the UK and Europe, most recently at Format 21 and HOME Manchester. His prints are held in collections in Canada and the UK, and he recently had two portraits shortlisted for the Royal Photographic Society’s International Award 2021. For further information and to see his other projects, please see www.markhobbsphotography.com
If you have any questions about the photobook or the project, please get in touch via my website.