Local East Dulwich documentary family photographer Irma Arrowsmith found she was really missing everything she loved about her job once the COVID-19 pandemic caused the UK lockdown and led to the postponement of her shoots. Wanting to stay creatively challenged, she began to think about ways to keep herself busy – while still taking the current safety measures into consideration. That’s when she decided to reach out to the local East Dulwich community to see if families would be interested in a free ‘lockdown portrait’ to document this extraordinary moment in their lives. All the participating families are getting Irma’s photos of them for free – as her way of saying thank you for their participation and as a small gesture of solidarity in these strange times.
As well as allowing her to stay creatively challenged, her Life in Lockdown project also helps keep her in contact with people – something else that she misses now we’re all cooped up at home. “It’s one of the privileges of being a family photographer that you meet so many different, interesting and lovely people – even if this now has to be from at least two metres away!”
All the portraits in Life in Lockdown are taken of local families who live within a half hour walk of Lordship Lane – as Irma is fitting the shoots in as part of her daily exercise allowance. The photos are taken on their doorstep or balcony, in their garden or yard, or at a window – and always from a safe minimum distance of two metres.
Irma is still taking requests for portraits and will be continuing with the project for as long as the current “lockdown” is in place. Anyone interested in taking part can contact her directly via her website. Eventually she hopes to turn the collection into a local exhibition and possibly even a book.
See the full Life in Lockdown project here.
This article first appeared in the May issue of SE22.