Portraits from a pandemic

Elli and Theodore from Grange Park are among scores of families photographed by Katrina Campbell and featured in her new book, 'When We All Stayed At Home'
Elli and Theodore from Grange Park are among scores of families photographed by Katrina Campbell and featured in her new book, ‘When We All Stayed At Home’

A new photography book tells the stories of people from across Enfield as they live through lockdown

While we are enduring a third national lockdown, it’s an apposite time to reflect and think back to how we were feeling in March 2020 when the pandemic first closed in around us.

There was a strong sense of togetherness and community spirit, with neighbours reaching out to support vulnerable people, everyone taking part in the ‘clap for carers’ on Thursday nights, and the idea of staying at home for nearly 24 hours a day was still a novel concept.

Like many others, portrait photographer Katrina Campbell suddenly found herself out of work, and was looking for other things with which to occupy her time. She decided to try and capture the collective mood of her local neighbourhood of Grange Park, and began photographing people on their own doorsteps, capturing little snippets of personal stories as she went along.

It began with Katrina’s own street, in the first week of the first lockdown, but soon she found herself hopping on her bike to meet people in Winchmore Hill, Palmers Green, Southgate and other parts of Enfield borough. The images and the accompanying stories were shared on Instagram at first, before the opportunity arose to put them all together in a book, When We All Stayed At Home.

“The idea came to me right at the start of lockdown,” Katrina explains. “I was struck by the many and varied stories from all the people I spoke to.

“Not only was a deadly virus overwhelming the country, it was apparent that behind every front door, there were so many everyday lives unravelling; postponed exams, delayed medical treatment, children struggling to study at home, loss of income, to name a few.

“Yet at the same time there was a heightened sense of connection, people were talking more, sharing their worries, reaching out to help each other. Personally I felt bereft at not being able to work, and wanted to capture this unusual time – the challenging circumstances everyone faced, as well as the buoyant mood and sense of community.”

The range of people Katrina met during this project were incredibly diverse. There was a furloughed taxi driver, a family of Iranian refugees, a yoga teacher using Zoom to run classes, an architect working from home, a vicar of a local church, a nurse from North Middlesex Hospital, foodbank volunteers, people who were sewing NHS gowns, and families who had lost loved ones, to name a few.

Katrina adds: “In the first couple of months there was a real sense of togetherness, of a shared experience. I asked local people if they would let me photograph and interview them and was surprised by the huge response, especially by people’s willingness to share how they were really feeling.

“The need to hear about other people’s experiences and share their own stories was clearly very important.”

‘When We All Stayed At Home’ is self-published and can be bought online:
Visit katrinacampbell.co.uk/galleries/when-we-all-stayed-at-home