Experiences of lockdown photo book raising money for mental health charities

The book, which has seen people from all walks of life across the UK send in photos of their experiences of lockdown, will see all profits go to mental health charities.

Lockdown has been difficult, with some people not seeing anyone in months and the whole idea of life as we know it coming to a halt is not something we are all used to.

One photographer from Manchester wanted to share people’s personal and intimate experiences of lockdown life through images they had taken themselves as a way of highlighting how this shared event has affected us all in different ways.

Sushil Nash, 31, came up with the idea for Stay Home while furloughed when a friend asked how he was doing.

Two examples of the many different stories told through images in Stay Home. (Sushil Nash)

Using his passion for photography and design to offer an intimate look inside the lives of others, he said he wanted to look more at the “experience of living in this strange new world and how it feels on a human level”.

“[My friend’s] question got me thinking about how, even though we’re all living through this same shared event, it’s affected us all in so many different ways and we each have our own complicated relationship with it.

“I thought it would be interesting to try and get an insight into the kinds of experiences my friends and family have had during lockdown, and how they felt about them,” he told Oh My Goodness.

Sushil started by asking everyone he knew to send him a photo they took during lockdown and describe how it relates to them and their experience of it.

After the photographer began to see how “special” each photo and description felt, he wondered what that collection would look like from a more diverse mix of demographics, so he reached out on social media, by posting notes in shop windows and even on Gumtree.

What ensued was a response he never truly expected and one that has almost brought him to tears on several occasions.

“I [received] hundreds of contributions from all over the country, and so many kind words of support. [It] means a lot to me, especially as I’m doing this on my own!

“There’s such variety across the responses which is something that’s really important to this project and some of them are just so incredibly personal and honest! I’ve been moved almost to tears on a few occasions, working with these photos and thinking about how generous and open everyone has been,” he said.

Sushil (pictured) originally wanted to see what lockdown and the experience of it was like for his friends and family but after reaching out on social media received over 500 photos from people across the UK. (Sushil Nash)

Sushil believes pictures, which he describes as “really important for the execution”, was a gentler way of approaching a personal request and would allow participants to interpret the question in whatever way made them most comfortable.

“Some of the photos visually encapsulate lockdown in such a perfect way, and then you get others where the connection to lockdown isn’t obvious at all until you read the caption and understand why it means so much to someone. That conversation between the two feels really exciting to me,” he said.

While the project brought up some challenges, Sushil is excited about seeing the final product and “finally” walking around his apartment again which he says is currently a “sea of paper”.

One particularly special entry for Sushil is a selfie from his mum who he celebrates as “famous at last!”

While the 31-year-old is planning for the book to be published and delivered in time for Christmas, he has put no pressure on reaching any sales targets, instead focusing on the cause that the book aims to support.

No two entries have been the same with some nearly moving the photographer to tears. (Sushil Nash)

Sushil has pledged that 100% of profits from the book will be used to support a chosen mental health charity in the UK and Ireland.

“There’s no pressure on me to hit any targets from a financial point of view, but being able to send a few quid to a worthy cause would mean a lot to me,” he added.

Now in the design stages, Sushil says more entries are still being sent in, and while some will have to be cut, as the photographer has received over 500 photos, he is still open for new stories to tell.

You can see a sneak preview of more pages from the book below.

You can learn more about Stay Home and submit your own photos for the project on its website.

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