Die Monate der Pandemie nutzt Dougie Wallace seit Beginn an für eigene Projekte – jüngst ist sein neues Buch »Bus Response« erschienen, für das er das tägliche Londoner Leben in den und rund um die so typischen roten Londoner Busse fotografiert hat. Darüber, über seinen Blick auf die Fotografie und über seinen aktuellen Job haben die #FacesOfPhotography mit ihm gesprochen:
Dougie, how are you
Fine, thank you. Trying to keep sane, like everyone else in these mad times.
What is the current situation in London?
London has been in lockdown for so long that it has become the new normal. We’ve been living under different tiers of COVID restrictions. Right now, we ‘upgraded’ from full lockdown to being able meet up to 5 people outside and hospitality venues can operate under social distancing rules, outdoors only. It has been unseasonably cold, so that’s not great but London is soldiering on. The next wave of restrictions and big step to freedom is mid-May.
Has the pandemic changed photography in general?
Like any creative industry, the universe of photography has been badly affected. The big blow was of course last year when we went into months of lockdown and life went into standstill. When there are no opportunities, you have to create your own and I don’t think ‘photography in general’, as you say, is well geared to that. What I mean is that many photographers, used to commercial work, found themselves idle and unable to operate because there was no work unless you are a photojournalist and get access to a hospital COVID ward. Photographers from arts or documentary backgrounds like myself are more used to creating projects rather than waiting for the phone call from the agent in order to get a project. So, that’s the immediate impact of the pandemic, although I don’t think you can generalise. Photo fairs could not operate. But, I hear that sales of prints went through the roof. I know with my prints, they were selling well during the pandemic, at least the first wave. It was selling more than usual. So, we’ll have to see, once the pandemic is over what the full impact was and how the industry changed. Right now, we are still in it.
What means photography for you personally?
Personally, I went out there and started shooting pretty much from the outset, documenting life on the streets under the pandemic. I now have a body of work, a year’s worth of it. There were different stages of what I was shooting between March last year and up to now – mirroring the current affairs headlines but also driven by ordinary – or extraordinary, more like it – life on the streets of London. A major theme was in supermarkets, at the start of the pandemic and then it shifted towards shooting in and around London’s iconic red buses. I published a book called »Bus Response« by Dewi Lewis (February 2021). It is a luxuriously presented box-set limited edition of numbered books and signed. There are only 100 but the project in and around buses continues, though it may be drawing to a close, as we’re getting nearer the end of lockdown restrictions. But, I don’t know. We’ll see.
What have you personally experienced job-wise an in your free topics in the last weeks and months?
I am first and foremost a social documentary photographer, not a commercial photographer so I have been busy shooting almost on a daily basis for my project of documenting London life in pandemic. I do some commercial work from time to time when clients seek my style and I regularly do editorial work. Most recently, I covered a quirky story of a parish meeting going pear shaped over zoom and, somehow, that hit all the headlines. My shoot was for the Economist’s online platform. The job took me to Handforth (no I haven’t heard of the place before either but it will come up through a search engine!).
What is your personal photographic wish for the future?
To carry on doing what I love. As I said, right now, the ‘bus’ project is still alive and kicking but I am already thinking of new themes and I have already started shooting some new London vibes – watch this space.
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