My best pandemic shot: Guardian and Observer photographers’ view on 2021 | Coronavirus

From vaccination centres and ICU wards to household reunions and lockdown beards, the pictures chosen by the Guardian and Observer photographers, accompanied by their ideas, give particular person takes on masking the continuing pandemic.

The Covid-19 ICU ward at the University College hospital in London.

Graeme Robertson

The week I spent within the ICU was actually stunning for me. I additionally caught Covid that week so I had time after the job to consider what I had witnessed. I sat within the ward reverse a poor affected person and was shocked how pale and plastic their pores and skin appeared. I requested the docs if this was regular for Covid victims; the docs stated the sufferers had been dying and the pores and skin modifications color. This was stunning to me. I believed each individual breaking the principles or didn’t assume Covid was that unhealthy ought to spend a day on this ward. The individuals had been very ailing and helpless. I used to be scared and I don’t get scared. I used to be additionally so impressed with the employees and the quantity of individuals wanted to attain very small jobs like shifting a affected person; it took six to eight individuals simply to show a affected person in mattress. I already had a lot respect for our NHS employees however now I believe they’re tremendoushuman and deserve all the things we may give them.

Vaccinations at Thurso high school, Scotland.

Murdo MacLeod


Vaccination has modified our panorama and our lives during the last yr. Think about the world with out it. There isn’t any freedom like good well being. I photographed on a day when nearly 1,000 individuals of all types and sizes acquired vaccinated in a sports activities corridor at Thurso excessive faculty. The workforce included practice nurses, superior nurse practitioners, GPs, a retired GP, a trainee GP, paramedics and a marketing consultant doctor. Further volunteers included practice administration employees and even some sufferers appearing as assist volunteers. It was the epitome of group and society at work doing good.

Tom Adamson, Gamekeeper for the Bolton Abbey Estate holds some heather in his hands as Moorland Burning takes place on Barden Moor in the Yorkshire Dales.

  • Tom Adamson, gamekeeper for the Bolton Abbey property, holds some heather in his arms as moorland burning takes place on Barden Moor within the Yorkshire Dales

Richard Saker

With Covid influencing the best way I’ve labored this yr it was good to get away from this story for some time. So the chance to cowl moorland burning in a thought of manner over just a few days and hearken to the arguments for and in opposition to was refreshing and enlightening. To its critics, moorland burning is damaging to the atmosphere – it releases thousands and thousands of tonnes of greenhouse fueles, destroys habitats and will increase the specter of flooding in lowland rivers. The huge moorland estates in northern England and Scotland earn huge incomes from grouse-hunting and yearly they burn patches of heather to take away cowl for predators and create house for inexperienced shoots to be eaten by the grouse. The estates argue that the burning helps to protect the panorama and declare that opposition is motivated by hostility to grumble taking pictures. I really like the Yorkshire Dales, its a particular place of peace and tranquillity so to see it ablaze was, as a photographer, visually spectacular and dramatic however as a human being left me feeling upset and anxious. this picture makes me really feel uneasy and if it makes others really feel the identical manner then it was definitely {a photograph} value taking.

Scenes outside Buckingham Palace after the death of Prince Philip was announced, 9 April

Sarah Lee

This was an impromptu shot. I occurred to be biking previous Buckingham Palace on the afternoon Prince Philip’s dying had been introduced. Folks and information cameras had been gathering within the expectation of seeing “one thing”, “something”. There was the texture of an odd pandemic-influenced spectacle. Real mourners (and there have been just a few quietly dignified individuals laying flowers who had identified or labored personally with the duke) had been outnumbered by curious members of the general public. It nonetheless felt odd to see individuals shoulder to shoulder in a crowd. We had been solely simply popping out of the strictest stage of final winter’s lockdown. You might palpably sense the nervousness about Covid. But additionally the joys of being in a crowd once more. A part of a collective expertise, albeit a barely melancholy one, for the primary time in months. As I watched, this ardent royalist wearing his ramshackle do-it-yourself guards uniform got here to depart a tribute. It brought on the group to surge collectively. An odd website of curious masked spectators watching a self-consciously public show of mourning that appeared so particular to those bizarre pandemic instances.

The national Covid memorial wall at dusk, 4 November

Martin Godwin

The Covid memorial is a public mural painted by volunteers to commemorate victims of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK. Stretching for greater than a 3rd of a mile alongside the South Financial institution of the River Thames in London, reverse the Palace of Westminster. Because the day was ending, the final of the sunshine caught the wall and it appeared to glow. Folks flip as much as look and possibly draw a crimson coronary heart. Some simply rapidly stroll previous. However most appear to sluggish and look and learn the inscriptions on the wall. The younger couple within the photograph stopped for a while to soak up the memorial, as the lady reached out to the touch some coronary heart, or identify, the sensation was palpable.

Sister Elaine Stokes giving local resident Leo Fielding his first Covid-19 injection at Lichfield Cathedral.

  • Sister Elaine Stokes provides Leo Fielding, a neighborhood resident, his first Covid-19 injection at Lichfield Cathedral, 15 January

Chris Thomond


Leo Fielding caught my eye instantly as he strode up the nave at Lichfield Cathedral, which had opened that day as a coronavirus vaccination hub.

Neatly dressed and filled with function, the energetic octogenarian rapidly took a seat and rolled up his shirt sleeve. As Sister Elaine Stokes inverted the vial and fastidiously crammed the syringe, he took in each final element as if to savour the second. His gaze by no means wavered as she checked for air bubbles and then approached, needle in hand. Inside seconds the duty was full and one of many NHS’s heroes exchanged mask-hidden smiles and wished Leo nicely as he stood as much as head dwelling.

Interrupting his stroll in direction of the exit, I remarked that it was a beautiful setting for such a momentous private event. He glanced round on the magnificent environment and whispered: “Sure, I believe I’ll say just a little prayer of thanks on my manner out.”

After spending the earlier yr photographing too many Covid hotspots, this was simply essentially the most uplifting expertise I’d witnessed. Many had been nervously stepping exterior their doorways for the primary time because the pandemic began, desirous to be full of a miraculous new drug and hope for the longer term.

Nurse Kim James comforts a gravely ill Covid-19 patient on the ICU ward at Milton Keynes hospital during the UK’s second Covid wave, 7 January

David Levene

I caught Covid, together with the remainder of my household, simply earlier than Christmas final yr. Fortunately our sicknesses weren’t too extreme and I used to be again to work by 2 January 2021. 5 days later, I used to be witnessing, first-hand, simply how severely many different individuals had been being affected by the illness on the Covid wards at Milton Keynes hospital.

Till then it had been tough to get media entry to Covid wards, however by the second wave, hospitals had begun to let journalists doc the more and more bleak image that confronted NHS employees as they battled to cope with rising infections and extreme sickness, largely because of the extra transmissible Alpha variant. I spent the day in Milton Keynes assembly employees and sufferers on high-dependency and intensive care items. 9 out of the ten beds within the ICU had been occupied by sufferers severely ailing with Covid-19, most of whom had been unconscious.

The person on this {photograph} had been admitted two days earlier and, like the remainder of the sufferers struggling with Covid-19, was alone, separated from members of the family not allowed into the hospital to be with their family members. I watched as nurse Kim James comforted the affected person, holding his hand tightly as he struggled to breathe, assisted by the Cpap (Steady Constructive Airway Stress) masks he wore over his face.

The affected person died from Covid-19 two days later.

A male model poses wearing a face mask over his genitalia for a Guardian Weekend story about sex during Covid, 26 May

Antonio Olmos

On a Monday morning in Might I acquired a name from Kate Edwards, the image editor of the Guardian Saturday Journal. She wished to know if I might do a studio photograph illustration for a chunk on intercourse through the Covid pandemic. The journal wished a masks over a person’s genitals. And will I discover a mannequin and do the photograph in two days. I stated positive, why not. I known as a good friend who knew plenty of males prepared to pose bare in any case my buddies with good torsos turned me down. My good friend discovered me Dan de la Motte. After two years of masking all of the disappointment of Covid with empty metropolis streets, closed retailers, masked individuals and these reduce down by the illness, this photograph is definitely totally different and was really enjoyable to do.

Alice, Oxford Street, London.

  • Alice, Oxford Avenue, London, 15 December

Jill Mead

I’d been out photographing within the West Finish and was heading dwelling. I noticed Alice making use of her make-up within the mild of a store window and immediately knew I’d like to take her portrait. She was fully unaware how stunning and placing she seemed and totally modest too.

Alice is 21 years previous, a zoology graduate, and in January is heading to a analysis venture in South Africa. She was accepted two years in the past however Covid-19 scuppered it. It seemed probably that the Omicron variant would jeopardise her journey once more however she’s lastly going. She will be able to’t wait. I felt so thrilled for her and really satisfied that I’d captured a tiny facet of her journey, with the Oxford Avenue Christmas lights, as a beautiful backdrop. Every part about assembly her felt optimistic. I’d missed that feeling.

Josh and Arun.

Suki Dhanda

I shot a sequence of pictures focusing on males and boys rising their hair throughout lockdown earlier this yr. Though the salons had reopened from 12 April 2021, for some there was no rush for a reduce. Most preferred the longer unkempt look. What was the purpose of a haircut if there was nowhere to go?

On this photograph, Josh is sitting subsequent to his brother-in-law, Aaron. Each spent their lockdown in his mother-in-law’s home in Slough. I had not met them earlier than. Not solely did they have matching lengthy hair and beards, however additionally they dressed equally. Each had been very pleased with their hair – a lot to the dismay of their household – and had been planning to maintain their hair uncut. 4 months later Josh did find yourself trimming his hair and beard to look smarter for work. Aaron ended up shaving his head and his hair has grown again to a manageable size, to date!

Wedding dresses in a closed shop, London, 1 March

Linda Nylind

Firstly of the winter lockdown in January 2021, I took a sequence of images for my lockdown diary to visualise my emotions concerning the pandemic. I stumbled upon this shuttered boutique filled with marriage ceremony attire on Fonthill Highway in Finsbury Park, an space usually buzzing with trend merchants and individuals shopping for outfits for particular events. In regular instances, this store entrance would have represented essentially the most joyous second in many individuals’s lives, but it surely had by some means taken on an apocalyptic air. It made me take into consideration all of the lives disrupted, desires shattered, and plans put on maintain indefinitely due to the pandemic.

A scene from The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare at the RSC’s new Garden Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

  • A scene from The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare on the RSC’s Backyard theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 21 July

Tristram Kenton

The RSC’s Comedy of Errors, directed by Phillip Breen, was as a result of open within the Royal Shakespeare theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon in April 2020. Due to lockdown restrictions, all their theatres had been closed. Sixteen months later, the manufacturing opened in a brand new outside efficiency house, the Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Backyard theatre: an area that had not even been conceived of when the manufacturing went into rehearsal.

I had spent most of that point glued to my desk digitising my archive, so it was exhilarating to be again photographing stay theatre once more. This wide-angle shot exhibits the efficiency in full movement, with the 2 everlasting RSC theatres, the RST and Swan, lit up behind. It exhibits simply how profitable the RSC, like many different theatres, has been in adapting to the circumstances, giving audiences (those that had been fortunate sufficient to get tickets!) a magical stay expertise once more.

A Covid advice sign above the huge South Stand that would normally be filled with home fans during the Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea Premier League match at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium on 4 February 2021 in London

Tom Jenkins

Spurs v Chelsea, usually one of the intense matches within the Premier League with a rivalry that borders on hatred among the many followers. This was the scene at half-time of their conflict on the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in early February. It’s taken on the prime of the large South Stand, the most important single-tiered stand within the nation, which, in regular instances, could be full of dwelling followers. That second felt very darkish and haunting because the message to social distance was performed out throughout the rows of empty seats.

Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham .Pictured is Alyssa Bravo with her fiancé Paul Abuston whom she hasn’t seen for 7 Months. Today is Alyssa’s birthday

Fabio de Paola

I did a shoot on the primary day of lockdown easing at Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham when members of various households might meet up, play outside sports activities and have picnics once more. Strolling across the park, I couldn’t assist discover a household deliver out a cake on to a picnic desk. It was Alyssa’s birthday and she was seeing her fiance for the primary time in seven months! Double celebration. All of the household appears so completely happy to be assembly up. It felt like a nook had been turned.

Seascape photography (using multiple exposures) at Chapel Porth, north Cornwall

  • Seascape, Chapel Porth, Cornwall, 29 January

Jonny Weeks

Seldom have I had a lot freedom or time to mess around with my cameras since I used to be at artwork faculty, so when my editor requested me to diarise lockdown life in a inventive manner through the third nationwide lockdown (January 2021) I wandered out to my native shoreline in search of inspiration. The daylight streaming over the cliffs at Chapel Porth in Cornwall offered a powerful backlight for top distinction images and after I mixed these panorama photographs with footage of the tumbling ocean, it created a dissonant impact. I notably loved it at any time when canine walkers, cyclists, surfers and runners crept into these scenes as a result of it gave me the possibility to compose one thing a bit extra playful. On reflection, I realised these individuals had been in search of escapism from lockdown life, simply as I used to be, and my a number of publicity pictures had been a nod to the solitude and uncertainty of that point.

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