Capturing the moment is precious – especially now when individuals and communities can be hidden from view. This is something local photographer Andy Martinez has been doing for a living and will continue to document and frame through his lens during this period of coronavirus lockdown and isolation.
Photography has framed second generation Spaniard Andy Martinez’ life over the 24 years he has been living on Brixton Road and where Andy calls home.
Andy said he did not want to stop shooting despite the Covid 19 lockdown. “I always look to capture an essence of what is happening in the community. I am still allowed to work. I have restricted how often I go out so if I’m shopping or exercising with my son, George, I sometimes take my camera. We cycle and if we pass a friend’s home we stop maybe to have a distanced chat and as part of my journey I document what I see through a window at their doorway like a record or a tangible connection, separate but together.”
Speaking to Andy promoted me to take a picture of my neighbours giving their friends bread up and down in a basket on a rope in my block (right).
“Since I began this project it has made me more aware of the sense of separation or loneliness and the physicality of distancing. It’s really just about how we cope and how we adjust to reality.
“My mother used to take a lot of photos of us when we were growing up and as a teenager I was strongly influenced by cinema from the 50s and 60s and first picked up a camera when I was 21 and started shooting for a community project that I was involved with in Peckham.
“I shot my first roll of a black and white film on a borrowed Olympus 35mm, photographing the traveller community off Queens Road”.
His exhibition in Brixton was at Music Works on Stockwell Park Road in 1984 and one of his photographs promoting the exhibition was in the South London Press.
Andy is proud of those early photographs. “It was inspirational and I continue to document local communities from South London to this day.”
Andy is predominantly a self-taught photographer who has “been fortunate to have been able to earn a living from my passion for photography.
“Amazingly – it has enabled me to travel as a photojournalist spending time working in India, Africa and Europe. My work has appeared in various publications including the South London Press, The Telegraph and Evening Standard, documenting working class communities and regeneration across South London.”
Andy says he always considers photography to be “a form of therapy, a release in the way that an image can transcend every day and expose a greater truth or meaning. It can be a challenging practice, the people, the light are unpredictable, which in a sense allows the freedom to react to the moment as it is, which is quite exciting”.
Andy hopes all his photography comes across as ‘stimulating, representative of a slice of time and ideally well composed’.
“It’s really difficult right now but I think a rising of hope and renewal will have to come. This would be the perfect time to make a real change and improve equality for everyone, there is so much that isn’t working currently.
“I know it’s going to be hard and the effects of Covid-19 will be deep. My work I think is a reflection of the times showing humanity juxtaposed with hope, great sacrifice and loss.”
He “hopes the photographs he takes will add to a valuable archive of this time of change”.