Capturing the people and stories behind the doors of Wetherby during the lockdown
- Credit: Archant
Photographer Hannah Brooke has been chronicling the life and times of people in her neighbourhood over the past few months with doorstep portraits
Having just resigned from her day job in January to focus on her fledgling photography business full-time, mum-of-two, Hannah Brooke was approaching 2020 with great excitement.
With a diary full of weddings and family celebrations throughout the summer, she thought she had a smooth run into the world of self-employment ahead from her home base in Wetherby.
As lockdown crashed down, her whole year of bookings began to cancel, one by one: ‘I was really worried about it – from a financial perspective of course – but I was also really scared about the virus and whether it would affect any of my loved ones,’ she says.
When their youngest son developed a cough, Hannah and her husband went into lockdown early with their two children aged four and six: ‘At that point I was full of dread and panic health wise, and then for how would I entertain the kids for two whole weeks? Thankfully all was OK but little did I know it would become 12 and counting!’
Missing her photography – and people – greatly, and recognising how difficult this was for others, Hannah tentatively suggested to a couple of school mums if they fancied having a socially distanced doorstep photograph taken when she was next out walking the dog. ‘I did these for the sheer pleasure of it at first,’ she says ‘but when I posted those first pictures on my social media accounts I was flooded with requests from people in the local area, in the surrounding villages and in the next town along,’ she adds.
‘I realised this was an opportunity for me to continue doing what I loved, turn my business around, make other people happy through my work, and to document this extraordinary time, creating a little piece of history.
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‘I feel immensely proud of these photos and memories I’ve created for people. I charged a nominal amount for these photoshoots as I didn’t want to blow anyone’s budget and I also wanted it to be accessible to all people,’ she says earnestly.
‘I’ve worked incredibly hard, and put in some long hours, because I wanted to document the memories for everyone who asked me. As a result, I’ve never felt more part of my local community – I’ve met some truly wonderful people along the way.
‘The experience has taught me a lot; never to take anything for granted, to look for the positives, that I’m more resilient and stronger than I imagined and that people are really happy to support their local small businesses. ‘It’s also taught me that my kids don’t need expensive days out and that I can cope through any future summer holidays with them!’
Gemma is an NHS nurse who normally works on a surgical ward in the hospital at Otley. She’s been redeployed to the Leeds General Infirmary working 50–60 hours a week.
Scott is a postman and has been working harder than ever to deliver everyone’s packages to them. They have children Oliver, nine and Millie, 13. Having been friends with Hannah for more than 30 years, Gemma was keen to get involved with the project.
Dan runs the IT for various power stations so he’s one of those key workers who often fly under the radar. He often works 18-hour days (6am to midnight) – he also volunteers in the local village to collect shopping and prescriptions for the vulnerable as well as all the shopping for his own family with wife, Kerry, shielding.
They are pictured here with daughters Avery, six, and Addison, three.
Sarah, pictured here with Pippa, six, and Jessica, two, is a teacher and has worked throughout lockdown - sorting out home learning for her class, going into school to look after key worker children, sending her own children to school and then home schooling them in between.
Her husband is a retained firefighter and an electrician, and he’s taken on a part-time job to help support the family during this time.
Sarah and Toby Turner-Thompson
Sarah is a teacher and Toby’s a firefighter. Toby’s shifts have carried on as normal during lockdown, so 11-hour days or nights.
Sarah has been teaching remotely from home with her own children, Camille, four and Oakley, one, at home too.
Mike is a postman and loves his job. He says the lockdown period has been busier than Christmas in terms of deliveries, and over a longer period of time.
Jodie has a full-time job working from home and looks after their two young girls, Daisy, five and Isobel, three.
Helen is an implementation manager working for the NHS supply chain.
Although lucky to be home based, she’s a single parent home schooling Emma, 13, and Gracie, 10, alongside her work which involves up to seven hours a day on the phone helping to keep the supply of vital equipment continuing to the NHS.
Robert Connell and Victoria Trelease
Rob is the clinical response and governance manager for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service at the emergency operations centre in Wakefield. Victoria is a lawyer based in Thirsk.
Rob has been working incredibly hard to ensure the processes at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service HQ have been adapted to meet the changing demands as a result of Covid-19, whilst working on new initiatives much needed to provide a safe and effective service for the patients. Victoria has been working at home since the end of March trying to balance the demands of her work whilst home schooling their eight-year-old daughter, Emily. Their second baby is due in the middle of June so there has been the added pressures of managing the risks of Rob leaving the home to work whilst trying to protect Victoria who is more vulnerable as a result of her pregnancy. u
Richard is a consultant gastroenterologist working at Airedale General Hospital. During the crisis he has been working on the frontline Covid-19 wards.
Suzie is a hypnotherapist who’s been home schooling their children, Eleanor 12, Ben, 11 and Alex, eight, and continuing to work with her hypnotherapy clients online.
In a bid to keep structure to their days they’ve been doing schoolwork between 9am and 3pm, going on walks and bike rides, and as if that wasn’t enough, dressing up every night in a different theme then posting the pictures on Facebook to raise money for the Friends of Airedale Charity.
They’ve done this for 63 nights throughout the lockdown and have raised almost £4,000.
‘It has given us something to do and we have really enjoyed hearing the comments from people who saw the pictures,’ says Suzie. ‘We’ve really enjoyed creating the themes; it’s given us something to do together as a family each day and created some lovely memories.’
See more at instagram.com/hannahbrookephoto