We invited photographers to share their photographs of home-working, and any tips on how to approach it. It’s not always easy to concentrate at the best of times, but these pleasant insights into the working worlds of 27 photographers are good encouragement.
We’re all working differently, adapting, supporting and balancing many aspects of our lives in a completely new way. There is no normal, and it’s good to see!
‘Such strange times. We are all, (children and adults) now working from home in our house, mostly from the dining room table pictured here. This used to be my spot; the brightest area of the house with lots of natural light, a window out on to the garden and easy access to the kettle.
Current circumstances often find us overcrowded. Most of my time is now spent trying to keep the children quiet whilst my husband takes conference calls, refereeing the odd argument, deflecting angry comments about home-school work and managing frequent requests for food.
Such times now require an alternative working location/retreat.’
‘Try not to work where you sleep – or if you have to, make sure you pack everything away at the end of the day. ‘Commute to work’ take a walk, cycle, something…before you start your day. Kitchen Dance Parties aren’t just fun – they are essential!’
‘My husband and I are both now working from home so we’ve re-organised our space. Two sets of different work phone calls and conversations was just unpleasant! I’ve taken our balcony table and a chair and set up a nice little office in the bedroom. The added bonus is a view to the outdoors. Now I can carry on with my video and photo editing in splendid isolation.’
‘I have always worked from home simply because it is the most affordable way for me to do it. With four of us currently living in a small flat I don’t have the luxury of a dedicated office or studio, so we have carved out spaces in various locations for me to use. I have one end of the kids’ bedroom set up as a studio for product photography, and a desk with a computer and two screens tucked away behind the fridge in the kitchen for editing. The books I read for inspiration are all over the flat to be honest – but most are in my own bedroom on shelves right next to the bed for ease of access.
To make this work, I need everyone else at home to recognise and respect that these areas are for me to work so that they don’t just become general dumping grounds. It helps I think that they are in ends, corners and nooks so they are quite clearly defined spaces. But I also like to send out a clear signal that lets everyone know when I’m working – I wear something pretty close to a uniform when I’m working – black trousers and a black polo shirt with my logo on. Then, when I’m done, I get changed. It lets everyone know when I’m off duty or on and it helps stop the line blurring for me as well – otherwise I might never switch off.’
‘These images are from my home darkroom, with items borrowed from the house and repurposed for work. Work and domestic life go hand in hand for me – I’ve been working from home for most of my adult life: sometimes paid, but primarily as an unpaid carer. This often filters through to the photographs I make.
My darkroom is my quiet space in the house, which I share with my two children, dog and cat. I’m struck that I haven’t heard much from the government as to how single parents might manage the lockdown: I’d like to see our voices amplified, and for there to be a wider conversation about what ‘working from home’ means.’
‘Isolation has made me far more aware of the light that finds its way into the flat at different times of the day… especially as we moved in recently and have yet to invest in curtains for the living room. I have to move around the room throughout the day looking for a shady spot for my laptop, but on the bright side this has kept me from being too sedentary.’
‘Nothing work without wires. My work place will not be able to work and has no meaning without wires. This is the technology revolution and for now I could not work without the wires inside my small workspace of just a table in my room, so the Internet and all online platforms for me, as an artist, does not work without my wires.’
‘Work at home is not easy, but as a freelancer, I am used to dealing with it, and one of the main things to know is how to adapt and do it fast. With a piece of an old bookshelf, I made my new desk for the quarantine days as I’m living in the country house for now. You need to make it functional. Also, I always put some personal touch to make me comfortable and more pleasant to return to work.’
‘Make a space, a separate room if possible, so you can physically still go to work.’
‘I work from home full time and am the primary caretaker for my two daughters. Work wise that means a lot of early mornings and late nights, it means being strict with myself for deadlines and goals but also being kind to myself when mama duties need to be a priority.
For parents new to working from home with kids my biggest advice would be to not be afraid to be flexible with your schedule as you find what works for your family. If you have the ability to allow your children to be a part of what you’re working on (art making or otherwise) its a great way to bond! If that isn’t an option though NO GUILT! Every family is different and the needs of every parent and child are also different. You will find what works for you with a little practice and patience.’
‘Working from home has it’s advantages. You are in your own environment, in your most comfy outfit and you can balance working time with rest time at your own peace.’
‘The room that I now call the office. I’ve had the luck to join a cousin in Cardiff and live with him and his girlfriend while this madness is happening and they offered me the spare bedroom. I’ve been working and sleeping in here. Is a lovely room with a nice window to the garden, with good light, soft colors on the wall and nice carpet.’
‘After waking up to more Covid-19 sad news, I wanted to relax, enjoy the lovely weather, while working on my photo projects. The air has been notably much clearer and fresher after the lockdown. I tried to focus on the positive aspects of the current situation… My tip for working from home is to create a comfortable setting where you can focus on your work and enjoy it! Minimize distractions and get your work done!’
‘My tips for working at home during COVID-19, are not to be too judgemental and make time for pleasure in simple things. My ‘day job’ is completely manageable virtually on the whole, but my creative play has increased exponentially. My intent was to make everything orderly and calm but the reality is far from it. I could have spent hours tidying up but never did!
For my mental health I have accepted this is a time for reflection and kindness, so I have taken liberties – with no additional house guests – and spread and is completely contra to the containment we are obliged to exist in now. Zoom calls, thankfully, do not see this state of affairs. So I am going for a playful approach “Don’t copy me…” It is freeing not to have to keep packing things up and unpacking.’
‘My wife usually works in an office. Being in finance she is still working as the markets are open. This is her setup at home.’
‘My impromptu desk for working at home, made of 2 upturned wooden chairs as the base and a spare off-cut of kitchen worktop resting on the legs of the chairs. I’m thinking of sending my idea to IKEA for mass production! I don’t have an office at home and needed to have a little privacy when working so this was the next best thing to using the kitchen table. These were all bits of furniture already in my home and the worktop had been propped against the bedroom wall for yonks thinking one day I’d get around to making some shelves. It is the perfect height on which to work.’
‘Top tips: 1) having a companion animal to chum you through lockdown; 2) stocking up on Tunnock’s teacakes (dark chocolate, of course); and 3) arranging a regular weekly virtual cocktail party with a good friend.’
‘Originally from London, I made Blackpool my home 42 years ago. This town is my inspiration: as a self taught photographer, specialising in street, my style has been greatly influenced by the local area, its inhabitants and visitors. Like most seaside towns, it is a place of contrasts. This provides me with the images – and the stories – I most like to capture. However, during the pandemic, everything has changed and my work has focused on home and short breaks for exercise.’
‘To work from home can offer the flexibility of taking tasks to different areas of one’s dwelling, possibly offering fresh perspectives and more clarity of thought. A breath of fresh air, an inviting table cleared for a new day’s responsibilities, or uplifting symbols on our usual desk space can positively feed our work and ultimately our output. To get the most of out working from home, especially when other family members are involved, a common understanding of everyone’s needs, sharing of chores, time together, and flexibility in allowing time and space for each person helps greatly.
Staying in the present moment, as much as possible, in gratitude for all that is, makes it easier to get through this unprecedented period in modern history.’
‘This is an ongoing continuous project started within the confinements of my home in Manchester. Using CCTV cameras I explore how places have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and government regulations to self isolate. For the purpose of this series, I specifically focused on Italy, the country that has been worst affected by the virus. I have been exploring other countries, cities and countrysides as well as accessing airport cameras which I will be posting daily on my instagram.
We are all facing such uncertain times, I obsessively check the growing daily death rates every day so the only way I can take my mind off my own anxieties is is to keep busy and meander the streets of different countries that are otherwise inaccessible. Some places i revisit everyday. I observe passers by and wonder what they are doing and where they are going. I sometimes make notes about my observations so i can look back on them and reference my days indoors.
They are all screenshots from real time cameras so it is nice to still have a physical connection with image making.’
‘Due to the fact that I must work from home, I have no chance to work on new shootings and this gave me the chance to reflect on the material I created in the past and to have a more transformative approach, since working from home is not only about the physical space in which I operate, but also a brand new mental process that allows me to be more creative in terms of making something new out of something old. The lockdown gave me the chance to investigate myself more while investigating the photographic image as an object coexisting with me in my physical space: how to explore more that sense of isolation, transformation and disappearance through it?
I transformed my photographs into animals using origami-technique and creating “dypthics” by putting them together with images crumbled, cut, torn apart. As stated, the idea is to physically explore that self-transformation, identity-loss, the feeling to disappear. It is my vision of myself, of the world and the universe and how I transform and manipulate them to become integral part of it, to integrate in a moment in which I do not belong, not even to myself.’
‘I juggle being a freelance writer with being a poet, creative photographer and experimental filmmaker. When you’re freelance you never know when you’re going to be busy and when you’re going to have no work at all. Since the virus hit Britain I’ve been incredibly busy, against all expectations. I’m hugely grateful to have paid work but at the same time it’s been really stressful. To keep myself sane I’ve made sure to shoehorn in some of my own creative work every day. When we were self-isolating, this was often simply taking pictures around the house. Now that we’re out of self-isolation, for me there is no better way to decompress than going out with my camera, even if it’s only for 20 minutes. I have a card on my desk that I was given at a meditation retreat. Written on it is probably the best advice I’ve ever received: ‘The most important time in the world is the time you make for yourself’.’
‘Myself and my husband Ian have been working from our relatively small flat since just before the UK Lockdown came into effect. We’re both lucky to have desks to work from at home, but Ian finds himself working in different spaces throughout the week. He’s tall so being able to lounge while working is a benefit to him and allows for a slight change of scene.
It’s been nice being able to spend more time together and we find that we’re navigating annoying things like washing-up and housework (of which there is more of since we started working from home together) pretty well. I’ve found myself worrying less than I normally would about these things because we’re in such an unusual and sometimes stressful circumstance that concessions have to be given. Partly out of natural instinct and partly to keep myself taking photos since so much of my work has been curtailed or cancelled, Ian and details of the flat, such as late evening light through a window or my plants, are now regular subjects of my camera.
My main advice for working from home particularly at this time, is to be gentle with yourself and try not to give yourself a hard time if things don’t get done as and when you want them. Make and look for beauty wherever you can in your home and you’ll find it a much nicer place to work from.’
‘I was in France and was preparing to go to Democratic Republic of Congo for a project. However, my work was suspended with border closure, and I stayed at home for more than one month while my family was in Istanbul. At first, I have lived through incertitude.
I was filled with stress inducing questions: When was borders going to be open? When would I be able return my work? What would happen if one of my family members fall ill? How would it be to stay at home for that long? I have followed anxiously the news around the world. Then, another door opened in my mind.
I have started treating the lock-down as a creative residency. Connecting with people all around the work in the same situation as me and structuring my creative time. My artistic work usually investigates societal issues. However, my gaze turned inwards during the lockdown. Then, I have started taking polaroids to create imaginary spaces.
These double exposures between myself, home and unreachable nature are creating an imaginary homescape : safe spaces preserve to mental health. I am influenced by psychoanalysis and creating these images have been a soothing experience for my mind(and the unconscious one..).’
‘Studies have shown that looking at plants can reduce stress and anxiety levels, as well as taking breaks, change of scenery (change rooms), it’s not a marathon pace yourself and make sure you set up healthy boundaries between your life and work.’
‘I am a primary school teacher so working from home is a completely new experience. I am still getting used to being in front of a screen for hours on end. I’ve wanted to be as accessible as possible and have been checking my emails at all times of the day and night. I realise now that I need to have more structure to the day. It’s important to have regular screen breaks and to have a definite end to the working day.’
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