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Photographer captures unique images of Belfast community during coronavirus lockdown


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A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

Peter Marley

Peter Marley

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A selection of pictures taken by Peter Marley

A photographer has been looking at the lockdown through a unique lens.

Peter Marley has been using the restrictions on movement to work on a series of portraits.

'Sociable Distance' is the working title of his special project, an ongoing series of photographs captured during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

He explained how he has been using his daily walk "to make images that create a time capsule of this unusual period in which we find ourselves".

"I've been making portraits with friends, neighbours and strangers, all from a responsible distance," he said.

"And it has been a great way to stay connected to a community whilst documenting the much quieter streets of Belfast".

Peter (32), from Glenariff, Co Antrim, is married to 36-year-old Zjena, a costume designer who is originally from Croatia. They are expecting their first child.

He normally works in the TV and film industry, but as that has come to global standstill he has turned his hand to this innovative challenge.

To date his series comprises around 60 pieces and "has gained momentum over the last few weeks" as people have started to learn of his unique project.

But although he suggested that he may hit 100, he stressed that he "never really works with a target in mind", adding: "That adds more pressure to how I work and makes it more goal-orientated as opposed to being an organic process."

Peter said: "I respond to people getting in touch with me but I also chat to neighbours and strangers to give the project a little spontaneity.

"It allows me to meet people who aren't in my immediate friend circle or extended neighbour group.

"A few would also be the unemployed film community, it's almost like checking in on them, just to have a chat, and then quite a few of them would be strangers who got in touch with me after exposure of the project online, or strangers I found in their garden enjoying the sun or at the doorstep."

Having worked on portrait projects before, Peter said the idea for this one came from him "checking in on friends who where nearby but hadn't really had anyone to chat with".

"I've done similar things to document changes going on around the country or strange events whenever they pop up," he said.

"So this was almost to create a time capsule for something that doesn't happen too often where people are instantly changing their day to day habits.

"Everything like shopping has gone from a daily convenience to a weekly extravagance.

"People have been very responsive and very quick to change their habits, from getting coffee on the street to preparing at home. Even thought the portraits were a way of making sure friends and family were okay, it was also a way of documenting how quickly our local community had changed.

"Hopefully that will be a record for 2020."

Perhaps the most striking thing for Peter has been the positivity of the people he has encountered on the way.

"There is an undercurrent of concern and worry but beyond that people are generally looking out for each other," he said.

"Some are running errands for their older neighbours. There's a real compassion within the community.

"It's warm and fantastic to see. If I had been told to imagine a dystopian future where people were wearing masks I would never have thought it was going to be so polite."

Peter said that once the series is complete he hopes to hold an exhibition locally and produce a photobook of his work.

"My projects tend to culminate in an isolated photobook of portraits," he said.

"But this time I've also tried to include street photography just to give a wider context.

"And because of the phenomenal weather we've been having the portraits have an almost too positive a hue so I'm including deserted places, a lot of the signage relating to Covid-19 and the amount of discarded plastic gloves to give it a wider context for 2020 and quarantine - otherwise it's just a lot of people having barbecues.

"The main thing is to document what's happening during lockdown and create a record of it."


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