January 17, 2021

Lockdown rolls on and it was inevitable my response to my photography group's challenge to pick 9 images to represent 2020 would feature them. However instead of replaying a selection from my book I thought it was an opportunity to reflect on how much the familiar has changed. I've found the transformation of advertising an interesting reflection of that. No new films, plays and exhibitions to promote. Seasonal holidays, retail sales and sports events are now all out of sync. We're left with those spaces - especially by bus stops - giving public information from physical health to mental well-being. For me it adds to that wartime atmosphere, or at least my imagining of it. I'm fortunate the closest I've been to anything like this are my family holidays in the 70s.

COVID references are also seeping into advertising not as a warning but a selling point, almost as a new subculture is absorbed by the mainstream to appear more 'edgy' or 'relevant' but in our upside down world the relevancy is about hygiene, safety and security. Fear is further played upon with a new service to document your grandparents' memories, now ironically the most valued members of society - no longer the forgotten or neglected, for a while at least.

My final image of looking forward to 2021 is a genuine reflection of a feeling of a lot of people but again it fits with the trend of brand advertising that isn't about the product but in some tangential, sometimes tenuous, way connects to a broader societal issue. 2020 provided plenty of opportunities to do that.

Roll on 2021.

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Sean McDonnell

I've been pursuing a style of photography now called street for a number of years. A south Londoner by birth I am pre-occupied with the West End and spend too much time there taking black and white pictures on film. I nurture a hope that one day London will be recognised like Paris, New York and Tokyo as a great city of street photography but secretly like the fact that it is still the underdog. For someone who enjoys the solitary practice of his work I am surprisingly talkative about it - although not at the same time. Here's a collection of idle musings and distracting links.

These posts are a sample of my current blog PORTRAIT OF A STREET PHOTOGRAPHER. There are 10 years of posts so please visit!

Portrait of a Street Photographer archive

link to Portrait of a Street Photographer blog
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