The last three months have been probably the most challenging I have ever experienced as a professional photographer. It was after a month of the lockdown around mid April, I had been home schooling my three children and hadn’t left the house or picked up a camera in four weeks. I hadn’t wanted to,I was feeling as low as I had ever felt. I had always relied on my work and photography and I felt trapped and helpless. It was one of my friends Nicola Pink who had mentioned of an idea to photograph families on their front doorsteps. At this point during the lockdown everyone was the same as me stuck at home, nobody had seen family members and the only people out were key workers or those who could work. I wasn’t sure at first if it could work.
All the photographs would need for me to be at the front gate or on the roadside. I would have to rely on people looking out for me so when I arrive they would be waiting on their doorstep. At this point the virus was at its peak. I thought about it and wondered if I could make it work. I wanted to do something nice for all those families who were like me stuck at home and feeling lonely and isolated. So I advertised a post on my facebook page Gareth Jones Photographer offering to go out for free and photograph families on their doorsteps. They could share the images on social media with loved ones they haven’t seen. Well the response was amazing. Before I knew it I had lots of people getting in touch.
I then decided well if I was giving my time for free then why not raise some money for a local charity so I decided on Queenscourt Hospice plus the NHS. I set up a just giving page and so it began. I arranged 15 families to visit on the Friday and spent 5 hours travelling around Southport. It felt so good. It was brilliant meeting people who were so appreciative of what I was doing. People wanted to talk to me I was at every house for 20-30 minutes chatting from the front garden gate. Families commented I had made their day. Children looked forward to me coming, waited at the windows, mums put on make up. I got home that night, I felt exhausted but so proud. It then started to snowball. Radio Merseyside had been in touch. They wanted to me to speak live on the Monday morning with Tony Snell. Oh my word how nervous was I. Stood in my loft at 730am chatting live on the radio. This was me, I can talk for ever with a camera around my neck but live on the radio well thats a whole new ball game. I did it though. Then followed ITV, Paul Crone wanted to do an article about me for Granada Reports. We filmed that on the Monday morning to. Yes with my lockdown hair! I had joked only weeks before to my wife about my long hair she quipped, don’t worry nobody will see you! https://www.itv.com/news/granada/2020-04-21/southport-photographer-s-unique-way-of-keeping-families-close/
The money by now was flooding into my just giving page. I carried on for the next three weeks visiting families across Southport and beyond. I raised over £1720 something I have never done before for any charity. Once I had appeared on Radio and TV lots of photographers got in touch. I knew then it would catch on. By May hundreds of photographers around the country were doing doorstep photography some charging some doing it like me for charity. You know what if by me doing what I did should I have inspired others then that makes me feel good. The Liverpool Echo did an amazing article about me and I have to thank Cheryl Mullen for that. So thats my story on how such a simple idea really helped my mental health during the lockdown, possibly inspired others to do the same and more importantly made people smile when life was very hard indeed. It led to two housing companies in Together Housing and For Housing getting in touch to commission me to produce photography of tenants for them. That has led to wonderful publicity for them as well. https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/insight/photo-story-social-housing-tenants-in-lockdown-66614
It just goes to show no matter how small we can all make a difference.
In anticipation I arrived at Liverpool Cathedral just before 9pm. It wasn’t until around 1030pm I was able to start taking some images of the Earth as it slowly rotated hung from the great space high above. I had previously photographed the Moon last year which proved very popular with the general public. I do feel though this will surpass that as visually it looks stunning. If you get the chance to go of an evening I think you will enjoy the experience even more when its dark. Can only be described as viewing our planet from outer space. You can pop down to see it up until Sunday June 23rd. Last year artist Luke Jerram used one of my images to go on the front cover of his book which I believe is on sale in the Cathedral shop.
Last year gave me the chance to photograph the beloved Giants for a third time in Liverpool. On the two previous occasions I had covered the event working for the Liverpool Echo. This being in 2012 and 2014. This time though since setting up my own business in 2015 I covered the event for hosts Culture Liverpool. The end result would see my images appear in the official book which would go on sale later that year. I worked alongside two ofter photographers and my brief was to follow a particular giant all day and get a true feel of the scale and excitement it would bring to the City. This event would provide some different challenges. The first being it would be held in October. The other two were in Spring and Summer.The weather could be very unpredictable plus the light would drop very early in the evening too. The week before the event saw high winds hit Liverpool which could again be disastrous. Saying that we were very lucky with the weather. Drizzle on the Friday would be followed by fabulous sunshine on the Saturday and a dry Sunday too. The crowds were amazing. The Saturday was incredible, you could not move in the city centre. It was the busiest I have ever seen in terms of crowd depth. The other challenge would be being able to carry all my equipment which would include two camera bodies plus two lenses. One short wide lens and a telephoto. I would also need to carry a laptop and leads too so I can upload images at intervals. This was a strain on the shoulders and back. Over the three days we would walk over 40km. On the Saturday and Sunday morning I would wake up and my neck, shoulders and lower back would be in agony from carrying the heavy bags. Having covered the Giants before I wanted to try and capture something different this time. I wanted to look for moments which would show a different side or angle. I was given the opportunity to get very close and I wanted to show that in the images I took.Yes there were times I would get told off by the French production team but after three days they relaxed more and I felt more comfortable too. This helped me grab the emotional image of the two Lilliputians crying as they hug each other towards the end of the final day. We also had to keep the secret safe that the Little Girl Giant would be making an appearance on the final day too. Walking along the Strand back towards Canning Dock on that final afternoon was memorable. In fact its surreal walking along the Strand on an empty road with thousands of spectators watching as you walk in front of the Giants. Its true you don’t notice or hear all the shouting you are so in the moment trying to capture the right image. I have chosen just some of the images I took below some are my favourites and some are just memories of a wonderful experience.
Hired by Culture Liverpool to cover the Tall Ships festival providing professional photography over the four days of the festival. Having a press background helped working each day getting the images they needed.
This year saw the 50th Anniversary of the Sgt Pepper album by The Beatles. I had the honour of being commissioned by Liverpool City Council to document all thirteen events. Each event produced by different artists reflected a different track on the album. The events were spread over three weeks and involved behind the scene shots plus some big events.
Had the privilege of being asked to cover the British Society for Immunology Conference. It took place in December at the Liverpool Arena and Convention Centre. Spread over four days it was a wonderful event to be a part of.