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A Magazine for Sheffield

Tom Taylor Life through a lockdown lens

The desire to document our surroundings is perhaps never felt more strongly than during moments of 'history'.

Many photographers have been taking to the largely empty streets during lockdown and capturing the strange new world.

One such photographer is Buxton-based Tom Taylor. We chatted to Tom to hear how he's been spending the last few months.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Tom Taylor. I'm 29 and I'm a support worker. I started shooting film photography about a year ago as a bit of a hobby. I like shooting film. There's a lot more character to it over digital photography in my opinion. I definitely wouldn't consider myself a pro photographer but I think I'm on the right track, and I keep trying to improve with every roll of film.

How have you been keeping busy during lockdown?

I'm still going to work quite a bit, as I'm a support worker for adults with learning disabilities. My partner was unfortunately let go from her job, so we've been living off my wage since lockdown came in.

It's been quite nice to spend so much time with the family. We've had a lot of time in the garden and I definitely think it's brought us closer. Other than that, I've been out shooting film.

What inspired you to pursue a photography project during the pandemic?

When lockdown kicked in I knew that I wanted to document the effect the pandemic was having on people and society in general. I didn't want it to all be negative though so I thought about which aspects I wanted to capture and how I'd go about it. I'd take the camera out regularly on my way to and from work, as this was the only time I was able to take photos.

I think the main inspiration for me was the fact that this was a big moment of history in the making. I wanted my photos to be something that people would be able to look back on and remember all the guidelines and procedures that were in place during the pandemic.

What have you noticed when you've been out and about taking photos?

When I first started taking photos, I noticed how eerily quiet it was. I live in Buxton, which is quite a small town, one of those areas where everyone pretty much knows each other, and to see the town so desolate and quiet was quite unnerving at times.

I would walk past local parks that would usually be packed with children and parents, and there wouldn't be one person in sight. The parks would be fenced off with a 'play area closure' sign on the fence. I walked past the same park around a week later and the fence on a seating area had been ripped down. I thought this summed up some people's attitudes towards lockdown.

I also remember being on a shopping trip and seeing someone walking around with swimming goggles, covered in plastic bags and a facemask. I wanted to take his photo but I didn't know how he would take to it, so I thought I best not ask. People were really angsty when lockdown first set in.

How have people responded to your photos so far?

People seem to have been enjoying the photos. One of the most popular photos I took was of a local postie called Liam. I knew Liam and had seen videos of him on Facebook doing the rounds, delivering post dressed as Pikachu from Pokemon. This was something positive that I wanted to show people. I met Liam and took his portrait. He had a big grin on his face. The photo made it into the local paper along with some other snaps of mine and ended up being one of the most popular photos I've ever posted.

Liam said it really cheered him up and he really appreciated it. For me it was nice to see someone doing something so positive in a time of complete uncertainty.

What's on the horizon for you, creatively speaking?

I guess I'm still trying to find my feet creatively. Shooting portraits hasn't really been possible during lockdown but it's definitely something I want to do more of.

I think everyone's got a story to tell, some good, some bad. I'd love to maybe incorporate portraits into a zine somehow. I think people would like that.

by Felicity Jackson (she/her)
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