Lynchpix : A Retrospective 2021

Another tumultuous year wrapped & the headache of Covid still resonates. The nationwide vaccine rollout has been pretty successful & life in the UK finally returned to some semblance of normality over the summer months.

For those of you discovering my work for the first time, let me get you up-to-speed. I’ve been a professional photographer my entire working life working mainly in the press, as well as undertaking a number of wide-ranging & varied commercial assignments. 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 or campaign meaning my own favourite photograph may not be used.

It’s nobody’s fault, just the nature of the business.

For over a decade, my website’s homepage has become the outlet for this material in the form of “Image of the Week”. A place where these photographs can be seen & appreciated. It’s not always glamorous, but portrays an honest & varied look at my working year behind the lens.

2021 began under the cloud of Covid. The previous Christmas a pared-back & cautious one. My own Christmas dinner ruined after I contracted the virus & lost my sense of taste & smell. I’ve contracted the virus twice this year, thankfully in both cases, my symptoms were mild & I made a full recovery.

My first assignment just two days after self-isolation ended was New Year’s Day; I headed to Royal Victoria Dock in East London to cover the annual open-water swim where hundreds of brave souls took a dip in the sub-10° waters:

You can read more about these lunatics here.

The following week I headed to the country’s largest retail development; Westfield Stratford City to cover the January sales. With Covid cases on the rise & a number of government restrictions still in place, the vast venue was all but deserted;

Next up I headed into Hackney to the Duke of Richmond pub, a community hub whom provided hot soup for their community throughout the pandemic. This time round it was the all-important NHS staff being supported with a care-package of 60x top-end burgers for the hard-working team at nearby Homerton Hospital.

The story ran really well in Metro, a publication I’ve been collaborating with for many many years

I finished out January shooting another great story for Metro; the “Dance Against Cancer” weekender. Yet another casualty of the pandemic; what started out as a charity club night morphed into a mammoth three-day online music extravaganza. Hosted by Unity DAB & featuring some of the biggest names in dance music including the gentleman that is Mr. Seb Fontaine:

The event was a roaring success raising over £10k for the Royal Marsden.

February began with a lovely portrait session at Bermondsey Street Bees & their Owners & Founders. London’s finest purveyors of honey:

With varying degrees of restrictions & lockdowns, the nation was home-schooling. I pulled together a little piece on a local primary school going over-and-above for their students;

Poverty became a huge issue. The number of people relying on food banks has skyrocketed. This image was shot at ‘The Hub’, a huge former church containing tens of thousands of foodstuffs & products. It is the primary distribution centre for all of South London;

I was on promotional duties next shooting friend & producer Sol Brothers (Andy Galea) alongside the brilliant vocalist Marcella Woods to promote their latest single “Suitcase At The Door”;

Back on news duties, I headed to Islington as the masses continued their efforts to have the LTN (Low Traffic Neighbourhood) schemes that are crippling local thoroughfares removed;

As the first shoots of spring erupted, I lost myself in the bluebell woods within Wanstead Park capturing the colourful changing of the guard;

The community stories continued, this time focusing on Harry George, Founder of SEND Coffee, a really interesting charitable organisation educating & assisting people with disabilities into the workplace;

Exactly one year to the day since lockdown in the UK began, I headed back to Tower Bridge; the exact location I first photographed on the very morning the UK’s first lockdown began;

Little had changed with just a handful of joggers taking advantage of the unusually empty Queen’s Walk. For a more concise look on ‘my lockdown‘, click here.

A raft of portraiture flooded in after that beginning in sunny Camden with expectant couple Jess Archer & Jen Sinclair;

Next I travelled further north to interiors specialist Kemi Lawson’s character-filled cottage littered with nods to her Afro-Caribbean ancestry including the amazing wallpaper below;

Television personality & fitness goddess Davina McCall was next in front of my lens for a hidden cholestorol campaign with Benecol. This was my first time working with Davina who was just lovely!

As we breezed into April, tourism once again trickled back into the capital. Photographed is the ‘Emirates Air Line’ cable car which connects the Greenwich Peninsula in South London with the Royal Docks in East London. Large cues quickly formed on what was a beautifully sunny afternoon;

Work from home rules then came to an end with my old friends at Metro commissioning me to document the hoards of commuters filling London’s terminals once more. This was Stratford station at rush-hour:

And below is London’s Liverpool Street; the main artery into Essex during the evening crush;

A big factor in people returning to public transport was ensuring them it was safe to do so. We were invited down to Greater Anglia’s vast depot so they could illustrate the misting & deep cleaning processes each carriage undergoes daily;

Back on commercial duties, I assisted Aliza Reger & her team in the launch of her company’s new bedding range, which featured beautifully across six pages in Hello!

Next I was back on assignment for longtime client Ballymore documenting the grand opening of Skypool; the long-awaited ‘floating’ transparent swimming pool that stretches across two apartment blocks in Nine Elms & is elevated over a hundred feet in the air;

Back on news duties, Downing Street was where I found myself as over 1,000 NHS staff returned their £3.50 weekly ‘raise’ to the treasury in protest. The government offered a raise of just 1% to those key workers whom protected & cared for us during the pandemic. A wheelbarrow full of coins were delivered to the Treasury along with the thousands of signatures they represent;

Back on Ballymore duties, I shadowed Michelin-Star chef Alyn Williams & his team at his ‘pop-up restaurant’ on the 53rd floor of Wardian Tower, Canary Wharf as they prepared a five-course feast;

As a dog-lover, the next story really pulled the heartstrings shooting canine expert Diane Kasperowicz, who has helped many damaged, abandoned & injured dogs. She is photographed here with her latest rescue- Louie, A Staffordshire Bull-Terrier that was badly burned in an acid attack when he was a tiny puppy. Many of the scars will never ever heal;

That serious story was followed by a bit of fun-&-games with longtime friend, journalist & collaborator Simon Gage as he gets a trapeze-school crash-course with Gorilla Circus;

Interiors is another facet of my work that has expanded in recent years; this was an amazing renovation in Crouch End, North London;

A little slice of fashion & lifestyle next working with my former Street Style partner-in-crime; the lovely Amy Nickell as she undertook a Princess Di makeover;

The Winter Festival of Lights in Canary Wharf is one of my favourite annual events. A January fixture in my diary. This year, it was cancelled as yet another casualty of the pandemic. A Summer Lights installation was launched instead to mixed reviews. This was an intriguing piece entitled “Out of the Cocoon” by Amberlights;

Art expert Kath Wood was my next subject. I photographed her at the gallery she owns & operates in Twickenham. The former public house has gallery space on the ground floor with artists’ quarters in the basement. Kath occupies the first floor; the ultimate live/work space…

The summer brought us “Freedom Day” where all restrictions finally ceased. The very first large-scale British sporting event to take place after Freedom Day was the Bennett’s British Superbike Championship at Brand’s Hatch. Tens of thousands of people flooded into the venue across the three-day event without requiring face coverings or social distancing;

A little closer to home & Hackney next for an alfresco (and very time-limited) portrait session with Irish author Seamus O’Reilly;

With Covid seemingly contained, Camden Town roared back to life once more. The narrow cobbled laneways surrounding the former stables bustling with people.

Ahead of the all-important COP26 summit, we caught up with activist & filmmaker Jack Harries. He cycled up from London for the summit where he showed his film to the dignitaries in attendance. We were supposed to photograph him with the pushbike he would be riding up to Glasgow, but it was stolen the night before the shoot!

Still, the glittering gasholders of King’s Cross made up for the lack of pedal-power in shot. The story (and image) landing on the section front-page;

Festival season. Those of you that breezed through last year’s Retrospective will know the name PhilGood; A longtime personal friend & respected music industry DJ, promoter & station owner. For two long years, he’s been working on a festival in his native Essex, but because of the pandemic, it’s been put off & postponed. Over the August bank holiday, he finally got his wish & Proper Fest officially launched. A three-day party on the outskirts of Clacton-On-Sea. After almost an entire year of lockdowns & restrictions, it was beautiful seeing that many people smiling & dancing together. This was my favourite image from the event as Julie McKnight performed her smash hit ‘Finally’ live to a packed main stage & grown men all around me welled up with emotion. Euphoria!

Further reading on this mammoth 72-hour party here.

After the hangover of party season, it was fun & games again in the City of London for a drag masterclass at the 1901 Ballroom, Liverpool Street, which was a barrel of fun!

Back on news, I was down to Kent at an enormous fruit farm for a story on food waste. Thanks to the double-whammy of worldwide pandemic & Brexit restrictions, this one farm alone has been forced to throw away tonnes of perfectly edible fruit that they simply couldn’t pick in time due to a nationwide lack of seasonal workers. This has also meant less vines planted for next year’s (2022) season;

Staying with news, I hot-footed it down to the DSEI Arms Fair at London’s ExCel Arena. Always a controversial gathering, there was a heavy police presence around the sizeable venue with protests & rallies occupying surrounding thoroughfares all week. Dame Vivienne Westwood was one of the most recognisable faces to speak out at the event;

I stayed riverside for the following week’ highlight; The Royal Wharf Summer Fete. Below is the enormous awning set up specifically for face-painting;

The news cycle was then absolutely dominated by the UK’s fuel crisis. Fuel supply shortages caused panic buying across the counrty. Britons cued for hours at the pumps filling their tanks, as well as other receptacles including jerry cans, plastic bottles & even carrier bags in an attempt to keep their vehicles in motion. There were stories of cars following tankers up & down motorways in the hope they were heading to a filling station nearby to restock.

I was on assignment at Gallions Reach retail park in East London beside a deserted Tesco filling station. Ten minutes later a tanker arrived with a snaking trail of cars behind it & the entire area came to a standstill;

It was back to Embassy Gardens next documenting their Residents’ Events Programme; the inaugural event being Drag Bingo hosted by the larger-than-life “Sheila!

The next story was an important one; The Solo Haus project pilot scheme in Tottenham. Thirty smart self-contained ‘pod-homes’ were designed & built for local homeless & vulnerable people. The development is completely modular & can be added to & indeed moved with relative ease meaning many more of these schemes can be utilised on temporary sites across the country;

Back on arts duties I visited Trinity Buoy Wharf; London’s last remaining lighthouse for ‘Sonic Ray’. For the first time since the 19th Century, the lantern room at the historic sight cast out light in the form of an intense green beam across the Thames to Greenwich Peninsula

The following weeks’ highlight was a cool rooftop session with singer-songwriter Dylan Holloway;

I took a brief respite from the news cycle crossing the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland & it’s stunning Antrim Coast. The UK’s doors were open to the world, but much of the world remained cautious. International travel required Covid passports, health & passenger locator forms and PCR tests for certain regions, so we made the decision to stay within our own national borders. Northern Ireland is an area I’ve never visited & how I regret that decision- what an utterly beautiful part of the world it is. My visit ended at the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Giant’s Causeway;

Where patrons were free to stomp & frolic all over the ancient rocks, rather than viewing them from a distance behind a velvet rope like so many other sites around the world.

I returned from Ireland’s stunning coastline into an equally impressive interiors shoot at a redevelopment in Surrey;

As the autumn leaves began to fall, I met author Hunter Davies in Hampstead Heath; the subject of his latest book for a portrait session;

Back on arts & interiors duties I photographed glamorous curator Zoë Allen, Founder of Artistic Statements at her period home on Clapham Common;

On the very last day of Autumn, I headed back to Hampstead to capture the dawn sun rising above London’s iconic skyline;

With the festive season just round the corner, themed shoots came in thick-and-fast. Singer-songwriter Riva Taylor released her own Christmas single in case you were bored of Mariah Carey & Slade…

Then it was off to TV personality & designer Simon Hamilton‘s pad for a full-on Christmas cover shoot;

Following on from that, I had a reportage walkabout at Greenwich’s newly opened ‘Design District‘. Comprising of sixteen totally unique buildings & structures;

I wrapped 2021 at an enormous food bank within the Business Design Centre in Islington, North London.

With over 14,000 items on offer, the joint-scheme aimed to provide 600 families each day with food parcels to see them through Christmas;

That’s it- another year under Covid wrapped. I hope your 2021 was a safe one & you’ve enjoyed my photographic review. Another battling & disrupted twelve months to say the least. There have been some hugely enjoyable moments, alongside many challenging & sombre ones.

I finished last year’s review with a thank you to the NHS & that still feels like a hugely important statement. The lives saved & the care provided to millions of people affected by this world-crippling virus has been above-and-beyond.

Let’s hope 2022 will bring the world (and our battling key-workers) some much-needed stability & that we can finally see the end of this awful pandemic.

Daniel Lynch Photography

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