Lynchpix : A Retrospective 2020


Well that was twelve months we won’t forget!

2020 was a year like no other, the hangover of which we’re still reeling from as I write this post. Thankfully a number of vaccines have been discovered for the horrible, world-crippling COVID-19 virus that halted the entire planet in some way, shape or form. As an accredited press photographer, I continued to work throughout the pandemic covering my usual mix of portraiture & features, as well as documenting as much as I could in what was an extremely difficult & unprecedented time.

For those of you unfamiliar with my work, or indeed this project, let me get you up-to-speed. I’ve worked in the press my entire professional life. I absolutely love what I do, although it can sometimes be frustrating. The best image taken might not necessarily be the best one to illustrate a particular story. Shape & space on the page also play their part meaning my own favourite image might not be seen & appreciated. It’s nobody’s fault, just the nature of the business.

Since 2010, the homepage of my website has become the home of, and outlet for my “Image of the Week”. An image I personally feel most happy with. It’s not always glamorous, but it’s an honest portrayal of the paths a working press photographer in the UK treads. Below is my photographic look back at the 52 weeks that made up 2020:

The year started positively. I was kept busy with my weekly contribution to the Evening Standard‘s ‘Spotlight’ page, as well as regular commitments for other newspapers & publications.

My first assignment of 2020 was documenting the area in & around Muswell Hill in North London. This frame is shot from Alexandra Palace; one of London’s highest points:

Next up was a portrait shoot with alt-pop duo Oh Wonder to promote their new album. Portraiture is something that features heavily in my day-to-day work:

Week three’s highlight was from a shoot back on duty for the Evening Standard in Tooting, South-West London with shoemaker Andreas Kostas Sphicas. Andres is a classic shoemaker whom trained with Loake; the Queen’s shoemaker. Andreas has operated this workshop for over 50 years;

Week 4’s ‘fave frame’ is from one of my own personal favourite annual events; the ‘Winter Festival of Lights’ held in & around the Canary Wharf complex in Docklands, East London. I’ve been attending since it’s inception & every year it grows larger & more interesting. Sadly this years’ event (2021) has been shelved. Another victim of the pandemic;

Week 5 was all about the portraiture again (told you!). It’s was a busy week chock-full of ‘people pictures’. My favourite of which was this set with Irish rugby legend Shane Horgan;

Week 6 & I was back on shift for the Evening Standard; this time focusing my lens around historic Greenwich. In the crisp winter sun, the people of Greenwich flocked to one of the many riverside pubs the area is blessed with;

Week 7 took me out of the city into the Kentish countryside to the workshop of one of the country’s most well-regarded artists & sculptors; Jeff Lowe. His vast workspace filled with aesthetically pleasing pieces:

Back on the road again I travelled to Aldershot where the former military hospital is being transformed into smart, modern apartments. This is the interior of the long-neglected clocktower. A listed structure, it is to be lovingly restored & incorporated into the development;

Week 9 & I undertook a huge architectural project with longstanding client Ballymore working at their vast Royal Wharf project, a 40-acre patch of riverside that has been completely rejuvenated in Silvertown, east London;

Back on the news trail, Week 10’s highlight is from an interview for Metro with Siân Berry, the Green Party’s Co-Leader & their candidate for the position of Mayor of London. The mayoral election was postponed once the COVID pandemic took hold…

The Cheltenham Festival 2020 was the final large organised gathering held before the UK was placed into ‘lockdown’. An estimated 250,000 people visited the racecourse over a four day period;

Lockdown!! On Monday 23rd March 2020, the United Kingdom was placed into lockdown. Only essential journeys were permitted for all but key-workers. One form of daily exercise was also permitted for a maximum of one hour. I was up at the crack of dawn as the sun crept up behind Tower Bridge to catch the early-morning joggers:

A week later & the social movement ‘Clap For Carers’ began to take off. The concept was a simple one; every Thursday evening at 8pm, the nation was invited to step out of their houses & clap in honour of our NHS & the work they were doing to save the lives of so many stricken people. This frame was shot at City Island in Canning Town, East London;

By Week 14, the virus had fully taken hold & hospitals were becoming overwhelmed. Large-scale temporary ‘Nightingale’ field hospitals were created up & down the country; the first of which was in London. The vast 100-acre ExCel conference & exhibition centre was chosen. Swiftly converted, it had a capacity of 5,000 beds. It was hardly used.

With the nation in forced isolation, the usually vibrant & bustling city of London was at a practical standstill. I ventured into central London frequently documenting what I saw. This is an eerie Trafalgar Square;

Not every corner of the capital stopped. Maureen’s, a traditional pie & mash shop in Chrisp Street Market, east London quickly adjusted their business turning to their fledgling delivery arm, which had to expand rapidly to keep up with demand as they shifted up to 1,000 pies per-day.

And they weren’t the only business adapting to overcome; construction sites had to quickly make alterations to their day-to-day to keep their staff as safe as possible. Social distancing measures & one-way systems were incorporated;

As well as temperature-monitoring. Such safety measures are commonplace now across the country.

As we crept into the month of May, the city remained eerily quiet. This is the Milennium footbridge at ‘rush hour’ connecting the St. Paul’s area of the city with bankside. A usually packed pedestrian thoroughfare;

The giant screens at Piccadilly Circus, ordinarily one of London’s most coveted advertising spots displayed messages of support for our emergency services. Even her majesty the Queen had a message projected onto the landmark;

The ‘Clap for Carers’ movement quickly gathered momentum with huge support from businesses & institutions up & down the country. This is the Bank of England illuminated blue in support of the NHS;

Cycling took off in a big way in 2020. With the streets of London virtually deserted, two wheels ruled as people ventured into town for their hourly exercise outing. This was shot on The Mall; the main thoroughfare leading to Buckingham Palace;

Back on construction & development duties, I toured the Southbank Tower right beside the river. London still had the ‘snooze button’ firmly depressed. I’ve never seen the river Thames so quiet;

As lockdown easing rumours circled, many questions arose on how things would return to normal. Testing moved to the forefront. Metro sent journalist Sharon Lougher & I to a private clinic in Whitechapel to experience & document their COVID testing process. A vial of blood is taken & tested with concise results delivered within the hour. Thankfully neither of us tested positive;

Week 25 saw lockdown measures eased & the nation rushed to the shops. This is Westfield, one of Europe’s largest Shopping Centres in Stratford, East London;

Retailers desperate to claw back lost revenues offered a raft of sales, discounts & special offers; one such retailer was Sports Direct, whom offered a massive 50% off on everything in-store for NHS staff. An estimated 100 people cued at this out-of-town retail park in Gallions Reach, East London to grab a bargain:

June saw a brief return to normality on the work-front. This was an ‘at home’ piece for the property & home section of Metro newspaper photographing the Spinks family’s beautiful cabin-in-the-woods.

Week 28’s highlight was shooting a really cool event in Brentford, West London. ‘Duke’s Drive-In’ featured a tailored roster of films with in-car drinks & refreshments alongside guest vehicles from the actual film. The inaugural screening was the British gangster film ‘Layer Cake’ with all four of the original cars from the movie below the screen to the left of frame;

Arts venues hesitantly began creaking their doors open once more; one of the first was the Phoenix Arts Club. This was a great fun session with drag-queen & compere Michael Twaits, host on opening night.

Like most of the country, I didn’t manage to get away on holiday this year. The closest I got was a lovely day-trip to Margate on the Kent riviera for this fantastic portrait session with singer/songwriter Whinnie Williams at her eclectic house a short walk from the beach:

This was another cool story. With property prices in the southeast continuing to climb even during the pandemic, this couple instead took to the water commissioning the building of this impressive & surprisingly spacious eco-houseboat;

There were many major events & spectacles cancelled or postponed this year. The Olympic Games in Tokyo, Glastonbury Festival & everything in between including one of London’s biggest; Notting Hill Carnival. For the first time in 50 years, the summer street party- the largest in Europe did not happen. As with many other events, it moved online. On commission for Metro newspaper, we caught up with some of the people involved with this year’s event; the first of which was little A’sha Morris, the carnival’s first Child Ambassador;

We also caught up with two-generations of family behind one of carnival’s most historic masquerade bands. This is Allyson Williams & her daughter Symone, who run Genesis. They’ve been handmaking costumes for the parade since it’s inception in 1966;

Back to portraiture, I photographed DJ Lilah Parsons at her charming art-filled flat in West London;

The summer months saw a number of protests & demonstrations; the largest of which organised by the climate action group Extinction Rebellion in what they dubbed a “Day of Disruption”. I documented this gathering outside the Bank of England in the heart of the City protesting against companies profiting from the climate emergency;

Week 36 saw me head down to Kent once more for a fantastic session with renowned portrait photographer John Farrier;

Week 37 saw further protests through the city of London; this time it was disgruntled residents on the march, the majority of which were from the inner-city boroughs of Hackney & Islington whom have had to endure hundreds of forced road closures in a government-backed scheme called ‘Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods’.

The idea in principal is a fine one; to encourage healthier modes of transport like walking & cycling. The scheme however, failed to consult with the local community affectively boxing-in vulnerable & disabled residents & in many instances simply shuffled traffic from one road to another causing more pollution as motorised vehicles idled in stationary traffic, or rerouted around LTN areas driving miles further than previously required. A number of legal actions have been filed against such schemes in a story that still rolls on. This demonstration saw hundreds protest outside the Mayor of London’s office before marching across London Bridge into the square mile;

Week 38 was a little more subdued, but no less interesting as I undertook a fantastic & thoroughly enjoyable cover-shoot with Irish author Emma Dabiri.

Portraiture remained consistent throughout September & into October. I was on cover duties again as I visited the eclectic home/office of artist & illustrator Emma J Shipley;

The following week and literally a stone’s throw from Emma’s studio, I had a great photo session at the home of DJ & Presenter Vick Hope;

As October trundled on & with the arts stuggling, a number of larger arts venues reopened, adjusting for COVID, of course. One such venue was the London Cabaret Club, whom hosted enormous open-audition sessions via Zoom for their aptly-named show “London Never Dies”. Auditionees dialed-in remotely & were projected across the vast venue’s walls. Here Choreographer Gaz Davies takes a group of auditionees through the moves;

Large gatherings were on pause, but professional sport continued. Football, rugby & boxing schedules continued, albeit without the usually packed stadiums & arenas. Top-tier football clubs kept themselves afloat propped up by lucrative television deals, but the lower leagues weren’t so lucky. The National Lottery stepped in to support the National League to the tune of £10million. The famous arch at Wembley Stadium was turned National Lottery blue in thanks;

Back in portraiture-mode I had a fantastic outdoor session with the author Lauren Bravo in her east London garden with stunning low autumn light casting interesting shadows;

As we headed into Lockdown number two, I turned my focus on industries helping their local communities to get through. I was up at the crack of dawn on the rounds with milkman Steve Hayden as his float snaked through the Wanstead area of London;

Week 45 took me into the heart of Mayfair to a vast £50million mews house;

Built from scratch on a historic site, the impressive glass-and-steel structure is spread across seven floors and includes an indoor swimming pool, cinema, gym, sauna & dance studio;

As we edged closer to the festive period, Oxford Street switched their Christmas lights on, but with the capital remaining in lockdown, the city was again eerily quiet. Previous years have had celebrities flicking the switch to a crowd of thousands;

Turning my attention again to local heroes, I headed into Havering on the outskirts of the capital. At the time it was the borough with the highest COVID infection rate in the southeast to visit a local pharmacy that remained steadfastly open throughout the pandemic, determined to support their community that so dearly needed it;

Late into the month of November & with the nation still in lockdown, the capital remained deserted. I documented an empty Brick Lane; ordinarily one of London’s creative corners teeming with youth & vibrancy;

As the nation eased out of Lockdown once more, retail again churned into life, although not all to a positive tune. It was announced that the Arcadia Group, one of the UK’s largest retailers went into administration putting 13,000 jobs at risk. Debenhams Department Store, one of the group’s flagship brands announced a liquidation closing-down sale with cues of bargain-hunters stretching right around the building;

The arts really did have a hard time this year. From grassroots all the way up. Two underground DJ’s & lifelong friends were determined to keep moving forward. On 11th December, they launched their own radio station; Unity DAB. From a standing-start in March, to workspace procured, soundproofed studio built & furnished, fully-licensed & operational radio station in under eight months. Quite the feat!

On Christmas week, I ventured once again into the city to Waterloo Station; London’s busiest rail terminal. almost completely & utterly deserted;

I have to say kudos to the staff, whom were very friendly & helpful with regards to documenting activities, which is not always the case;

My final frame of the year was shot at a bustling Borough Market on New Year’s Eve. Considered an ‘outdoor’ market strictly serving take-away foodstuffs, they remained open over the Christmas & New Year period enduring the varying tier systems. It was extremely busy with long cues forming, spilling out onto surrounding streets. The market has since insisted on compulsory face-coverings for all visitors;

Well that’s that. I hope you’ve enjoyed my photographic review of 2020. An extremely trying twelve months to say the least.

I’d like to wrap this up by giving a wholehearted THANK YOU to any & all NHS staff, emergency services personnel & key workers everywhere. Let’s hope that 2021 will be a little more grounded & a lot less dramatic!

Daniel Lynch Photography

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