Industry News

Covid Street: A Global Story Told from Individual Isolation

May 15, 2020

By Jacqueline Tobin

Photo © motherinthewild

Covid Street is a global photography initiative for socially responsible street photographers to unite during this crisis and document how their local communities are being affected.

Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with Covid Street co-founders Tom Clabots, Tanya Nagar and Adam Juniper about their global initiative started on Instagram in March and still going strong.

As the three define it, Covid Street was set up to allow street photographers across the world (including themselves) to contribute images depicting their local communities during the unsettled and unpredictable times we were in when the pandemic began and are still in currently.

[Read: Taking FaceTime Portraits During COVID-19 Lockdown]

The face of global isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Safety first, outside a shop in London. © Adam Juniper

“The three of us spent some of our isolation establishing @covidstreet, a place where we can come together and document the crisis as it unfolded around the world,” says Juniper, a London writer and publisher of photography books, his most recent titled Instagram Photography: 52 Assignments.

There are many elements to the project that are involved, adds Belgium-based photographer Clabots (who specializes in an urban/street look using a classic 50mm lens) including, “telling a global story from the viewpoint of individual isolation, documenting the story through the rich experience that is street photography (and bringing people closer together at a time when, physically, they can’t be), and creating and publishing a not-for-profit book to raise money for those suffering after the initial shock.”

Tanya Nagar, a London-based street photographer and the author of The New Street Photographer’s Manifesto, and Life in 50mm, says the trio chose Instagram as the platform of choice to get the Covid Street idea up and running because, “Instagram is brilliant for posting images and story concepts, so that’s how photographers started getting involved—with images that served both as a post and a story.”

Individual isolation in Spain during lockdown.
Sunbathing in Madrid. © Clauda Di Benedetti
A new reality resulting from COVID-19 pandemic.
Leyton district, east London. © Adam Juniper

“Given all these images from around the world that I started seeing on Instagram and Facebook, it definitely united us, being it was something none of us have ever experienced before but are all going through,” says Nagar. “This project has been great in getting a group of like-minded photographers engaged and shooting in their local communities, documenting what they were seeing around them…and in some cases, like in Italy and Spain where no one could even leave their residences or get past their living room windows, there were still ways to document what was happening.

A butcher shop in London during global pandemic.
Croyden butcher shop, south London. © Tanya Nagar
Another way of covering the crisis and isolation: from a window.
Photographing from above while isolated at home, Rome, Italy. © Jjacopo

Case in point—one of the earliest contributors, Jjacopo (above) from Rome, Italy, who photographed inspiring compositions from his living room window and from his balcony. “He’s been incredibly creative just from his home window, capturing beautiful moments using sunrise and sunset and a few people walking in the distance; it’s all been very inspiring, pushing boundaries even from a confined space.”

[Read: Documenting Weddings in the Age of Social Distancing]

Night shop in Antwerp. © Tom Clabots

The Covid Street initiative’s intent is to showcase the work of photographers who are sticking to the relevant rules within their community, which includes not breaking contact guidelines or making unnecessary journeys that puts peoples’ well being at risk. The ultimate goal is a published book, with proceeds going to charity. Tag #covidstreet or @covidstreet to submit images on Instagram.