Photos © Stephie Devred

Roman Road under lockdown: photo essay

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.

Side portraits of a man smiling with his mask down
© Stephie Devred
Maylins on Roman Road closed with shutters pulled down during lockdown
© Stephie Devred
Woman wearing face masks and gloves sprays hand sanitiser onto her gloves
© Stephie Devred
Black and white image of a woman looking into the camera wearing homemade mask and disposable gloves while queuing for Iceland
© Stephie Devred
Long line of people queuing for the shops on Roman Road
© Stephie Devred
Man with large beard wears face mask during covid-19 pandemic
© Stephie Devred
Woman and man in masks carry toilet paper down Roman Road in lockdown
© Stephie Devred
Shops along the Roman closed with shutters pulled down during covid-19 pandemic
© Stephie Devred
Black and white image of woman wearing a scarf around her mouth during lockdown
© Stephie Devred
Long line of people queuing along Roman Road during lockdown
© Stephie Devred
Black and white image of two men in masks carry shopping down Roman Road
© Stephie Devred
Man eats takeaway chicken and chips in his car on Roman Road during the covid-19 pandemic
© Stephie Devred
Black and white portrait of a woman and a man in masks walking down Roman Road
© Stephie Devred
Three people queue on the high street wearing face masks
© Stephie Devred
Black and white photo of people queuing outside Tesco during lockdown
© Stephie Devred
Person in mask and disposable gloves stands by doorway on Roman Road in the shade during lockdown
© Stephie Devred
Black and white photo of a mask that has dropped onto the road
© Stephie Devred

 


Can you help us?

As a not-for-profit media organisation using journalism to strengthen communities, we have not put our digital content behind a paywall or membership scheme as we think the benefits of an independent, local publication should be available to everyone living in our area.

If a fraction of the local 40,000 residents donated two pounds a month to Roman Road LDN it would be enough for our editorial team to serve the area full time and be beholden only to the community. A pound at a time, we believe we can get there.

Support Roman Road LDN from as little as £2 and enjoy the benefits of being a Patron.

Become a Patron from as little as £2 per month ⇒

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.