In a few short months, Covid Street has emerged from a real London-based street photographer’s need to help, to a global movement with hundreds of photographers sharing their time and talent to raise money for those hit hardest by the pandemic.
Tanya Nagar is the author of two collaborative photography books, The New Street Photographer’s Manifesto and Life in 50mm, both published by Adam Juniper. As soon as word of the Covid-19 pandemic reached London, Tanya (never one to side-step a challenge) contacted Adam to ask “What can we do?”
Knowing books take time, Adam said “We need to start with Instagram” and Tanya knew just who to contact: Antwerp-based photographer/designer Tom Clabots. Tom is a talented commercial photographer with clients including Red Bull, so he’s used social media before, but at the same time he can’t resist the pull of the streets for his personal work.
Together the three of them established ground rules for the project they named Covid Street; the most important was not to break local laws.
Street photography has a reputation for being raw, but Tanya’s goal, right from the start, was to help. By reaching out to fellow street photographers stranded in flats and houses across the world, Covid Street gave a global voice to many more photographers while at the same time telling a much bigger story than Tanya, Adam & Tom could alone.
Never forgetting the goal of producing a book and donating proceeds to charities, the three founders began with an entirely new Instagram account, and added their own photos to get the ball rolling. Adam — who has published many photographers but doesn’t call himself a photographer — was surprised (and, if he’s honest, pretty pleased) that one of his simple phone captures became one of the fast-growing account’s most popular images.
It was only a matter of days, though, before the three founders went from using their own images, to asking other photographers, to simply having to choose from an ever-growing pool of talented photographers submitting their own unique perspectives.
It’s amazing how fast we went from passionate debates between the three founders about cropping and image ratios in Instagram to talking with people in other countries about real experiences of life, death and mental health.
Even though the gang are adding several new submissions a day to the feed, including everyone who gets in touch or uses the #covidstreet hashtag is hard work, but one the group describe as “an honour.”
While this goes on, the group are also working on curating the book that was the original idea. As of June, the group are announcing pre-orders of the First Edition, a hardback with jacket which will be launched before the anniversary of the first case, with all those who pre-order invited to a special launch event and being commemorated in the book itself.
Where We Are Now: Looking to May 2021
May 2021 is the deadline for submissions for the Covid Street book.
The founders have been overwhelmed by the high-quality submissions arriving from brilliant, sometimes lucky, but always generous street photographers around the world but there is still time for a few more.
Now we’re in a distinctly different phase of the virus and we’re looking to make sure we reflect that before the book is sent to the printers.
We’re also excited that we’ll be able to present the book at the London Book Fair 2021, the industry’s first physical trade show in a long time.