Stephie Devred, a local photographer based in Hackney Wick, took to Roman Road to capture life on the high street during Covid-19.
Documenting these unprecedented and unusual times, Devred was most alarmed by how unremarkable these sights have now become.
‘It would have been so strange to see this many people wearing face masks and gloves, queuing up on the road outside shops. But now, it’s pretty normal,’ Devred (27) explains.
One scene stands out as being slightly unique, though, and is Devred’s favourite photo of the shoot. Outside of Iceland, a woman queues wearing a face mask, spraying hand sanitiser onto her gloves and rubbing her hands together. ‘She didn’t explain why she was doing it, but it intrigued me – this is something you wouldn’t see in “normal” times. I also love how intense she looks, like she is worried almost, but you can’t be sure because of the mask’.
Another shot that aptly depicts how people have adapted to the ‘new normal’ sees two men eating takeaway chicken and chips in their car. ‘It’s nice that lockdown hasn’t prevented them from going out to eat. They can’t eat in restaurants now, but that hasn’t stopped them’.
When Devred took the photos, it was a beautiful, sunny day on the Roman. A day like this would normally attract many local marketgoers, but as her pictures illustrate, in its place are masks and people queuing two metres apart instead. Unlike Devred’s brooding photos suggest, she recalls the atmosphere was quite friendly.
‘The last shoot I did of Roman Road was in winter, and the tone was quite grim. It was freezing, people weren’t smiling too much. But now, and despite everything that is going on, I noticed a different dynamic on the street. Roman Road doesn’t feel like a street, it feels like a village.’
When approaching people to take their photo, Devred reported that most were welcoming and open to the idea. ‘Maybe it was because when you wear a mask people can’t see your face completely, or maybe it’s because everyone is more isolated now and are happy to speak to others, or it could just be because we are living in an incredible part of history, and people want to be a part of it.’
You can see the full series of her photo essay below.
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