Photographer Jermaine Francis has documented London’s lockdown in a new book

‘Something that was so familiar becomes distant’ is available for pre-order now. 

by Jack Sunnucks
08 December 2020, 4:51pm

Jermaine Francis has often turned his lens on London for i-D, whether it be photographing the homeless crisis, activists fighting for change or the empty streets during the pandemic. The city’s first lockdown is now the subject of a photography book, Something that was so familiar becomes distant, which spans March to November in the capital. Jermaine writes that for him, the book is: “A document that takes us on a journey, without a clear end, or a definitive answer. A space for us to engage in the act of looking and seeing, during an event which is probably the biggest collective human experience in recent times.” 

See a selection of Jermaine’s images and thoughts on his work below, and pre-order the book here

Jermaine Francis – Something that was so familiar becomes distant

You've spent so much time photographing London – how did the city, and your photographs, differ during the first lockdown?
With the photographs, I tried to reflect the mood of the city, one that had become empty and in a state of anxiety and also shock.

How we negotiated our personal space and environment had totally changed, how we travelled the streets was taken for granted, freedom had been removed and we saw it now as a potential space of danger and the invisible danger of the Covid transmission.

For me, it was about distance and a kind of spatial awareness that needed to be articulated within the images, but also an emotion. This period was emotional and I think some of the images take on this element because of the context.

Jermaine Francis – Something that was so familiar becomes distant

There's something very filmic about the images, maybe because the city was so empty – did you have a narrative in mind for the series?
Yes, the format and the approach needed to have a kind of a film still element. I wanted to articulate the strange new reality and sense of disorientation, and an awareness of environment within the images: the city was empty but it was certainly not silent.

I also wanted the images to take on a contemplative quality, especially early on in the journal. Even when our spaces opened back up, I still wanted this element to be in the images.

Our lives were not back to normal, the journal was always meant to take the viewer on a journey through my eyes, I guess, and also attempt to reflect  the myriad of social and political issues and elements that had surfaced during this year.

What surprised you about Londoners this year?
I think how resilient the city had become. But I also surprised myself. I fell back in love with London in a way I thought I would never again, maybe because I stopped taking for granted what I had around me and discovered some real gems in the city: the simple things. Life can do that to you.

Jermaine Francis – Something that was so familiar becomes distant

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