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An unnaturally silent and deserted London in lockdown has been captured in a series of beautiful images, by Gravesend-based photographer, Wayne Howes.
Before the coronavirus lockdown, London was buzzing with tourists and locals going about their daily business. I work on the roads at night and, although some parts of London are quieter then, city life never stops.
A third of everyone that works in London works at night so there is always traffic. All-night restaurants and cafes are busy and, just before dawn, clubbers spill out onto the streets and start making their way home, past the increasing number of rough sleepers in shop doorways.
And that’s what makes Wayne’s photographs extraordinary. They show London as it has never been seen before. With most workers staying at home, the streets are quiet, free of cars and with barely a soul to be seen.
Wayne has taken photographs for as long as he can remember. He exhibits his work regularly at Gravesham Arts Images exhibition, which is where I first met him. And his pictures of Kent wildlife and the night sky have appeared on book and CD covers, as well as in national publications.
Wayne’s day job, as an engineer for a security systems company works perfectly with his freelance photography business. He spends a lot of his day walking between iconic buildings in central London. And wherever Wayne goes, his camera goes too.
One of his specialities is film and TV shots.
‘I don’t like the word paparazzi,’ he says. ‘But, over the last ten years I’ve photographed everything from Hollywood blockbusters like Mission Impossible and James Bond to Sherlock and Eastenders. If something is being shot on the streets of London, I’m not far behind with my camera.’
You may have seen Wayne’s shots in the national newspapers, capturing the moment Tom Cruise broke his ankle, when he misjudged a leap between two buildings, during a stunt for the Hollywood movie Mission Impossible 6′.
With lockdown underway, nothing is being filmed in London at the moment, so Wayne, who is a key worker and still travelling to London every day for work, is capturing London in Lockdown through his photography.
‘I think it is important to document what is going on in the current climate and to preserve the images I’m seeing every day for the future,’ he says. ‘We’ll never see London like this again, after this madness is over. In rush hour on a Monday morning, it can take you half an hour to drive down Regent Street, so to see it with no cars and no people at that time is really unusual.’
Over the past few weeks, Wayne’s pictures of empty streets, eerily quiet parks, deserted markets and a Stock Exchange devoid of traders have captured the essence of London in lockdown and hinted at the impact of coronavirus on the social, cultural and economic life of the capital.
Later this year, Wayne is planning to self-publish a hardback book featuring twenty-five of his lockdown photographs. He hopes to raise £3,000 to fund the project via Kickstarter.
The Kickstarter site goes live this evening and is open for donations until 7th June 2020. You can support the project here. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/waynehimages/london-in-lockdown?ref=ksrfb-prelaunch&fbclid=IwAR0qAhHKIqhYojTNac0urAYBopbkRBprLXaoODD-XG0pd-6xOQKQD4IY2GI
As is usual with Kickstarter projects there are incentives to encourage you to give. Here is what Wayne is offering if you donate.
For a £10 donation, you’ll receive a thank-you postcard of one of the images through the post.
A donation of £30 gets you a signed copy of the book
If you can afford to donate £45, you’ll receive a signed copy of the book and a mounted print of your choice from the book.
And for anyone able to donate £100, there is a signed copy of the book and the opportunity to take part in a photography workshop in London, with Wayne, where you can take your own images at the locations featured in the book – but this time with added people.
If Wayne’s London in Lockdown project does not meet it’s target, you will pay nothing. If he exceeds his target, he will publish a bigger book, featuring more of the hundreds of lockdown pictures he has taken.
You can see more of Wayne’s London in Lockdown images and his other work on his website https://www.howesimages.com/ or you can follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wayne.howes1 or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/waynehowes/