A picture of isolation: The best COVID-19 lockdown photography
With billions of people subjected to some level of stay-at-home order over the past couple of months, the COVID-19 pandemic has delivered one of the most profound shared global experiences humanity has ever seen. Photography social network Agora’s latest photo contest tasked its diverse community with capturing unique perspectives on this extraordinary worldwide lockdown.
“I’d like to thank the thousands of photographers who have participated in #StayHome to give their point of view on the confinement and to share a message of hope to humanity through their photographs,” says Agora CEO Octavi Royo. “While we are all enduring similar circumstances, these photos demonstrate that each home is different and each point of view is unique. Together we are stronger.”
Over 15,000 photographs were submitted to the contest, with a top 50 selected by Agora, from which its members will vote on a winner. From the contemplative to the whimsical, these sublime images capture a thoroughly unique moment in history. Geographical, cultural and linguistic differences disappear as people from all corners of the globe share similar experiences.
Some of the shots offer cleverly creative takes on the lockdown, illustrating not only the deep boredom brought on by being stuck at home, but an inspiring think-outside-the-box mentality. Berlin-based photographer Lea Kahler’s shot of someone reading a newspaper upside down takes a common behavior and presents it being performed in a surprisingly inefficient way.
“In my society, everything is designed to be efficient,” explains Kahler. “And it’s what is expected from us, the people, and how we are brought up. Right now efficiency is on low heat because of the coronavirus, and that’s what I wanted to exaggerate. Doing things inefficiently, because especially when it comes to art, culture, and mere being, efficiency is not the key. Sometimes society and we as people need to take detours in order to achieve something. And sometimes it’s okay not to achieve anything but just exist in the world.”
Other photographs from the top 50 illustrate the strange way being apart has brought people together. Several images focus on shared activities in large apartment blocks, including Nicolas Pregre’s lovely shot of people giving an impromptu musical performance in Spain.
“These simple pleasures give people a break from the bad news,” says Pregre. “It gives them hope. Now that I know all of them, I’ve already been invited to their wine cave to have a drink altogether once the lockdown lifts off.”
Take a look at our gallery featuring more highlights from this incredibly timely photo contest.