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Thursday's Child – Freedom
Photography Victoria Barmak

21 photographers on poignant moments they captured before lockdown

We speak to a new generation of image-makers about the moments they’ve photographed that they miss the most

Many countries around the world are somewhere between one and two months into lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis which has derailed ‘normal’ life as we know it. Embracing friends, dancing at parties, kissing lovers, and making friends with strangers, all this feels so far away. Despite this, the world will bounce back, with many of us having learned hard lessons – namely, what not to take for granted. While memories are all most of us have right now, these beloved vignettes should provide us a social roadmap with which to move forward once this is over – even if it is the smallest acts of physical togetherness.

In collaboration with Thursday’s Child, a global community of photographers, filmmakers, and digital artists, Dazed asked its image-makers to submit moments of freedom from a pre-pandemic world. Below, we speak to 21 photographers, based all around the world, about the moments they’re missing.

Eric Hart Jr.: From the inside looking out, I see how much I didn't cherish the life around me prior to this crisis. Not even just friends and family, but the life that grows out of this beautiful place we call Earth. The calm it brings, the peace it exudes, the contagious beauty that can cause one to sit and be mesmerised for hours. This is what I miss most. Taking the time to be in tune with the outside world is something I will no longer take for granted.

Laerke Rose Moellegaard: Being close to the face of the one you love laying together in the grass dreaming of the future together, thinking ‘How could I be so lucky, to lie here with you in these tender moments.’ Seeing the close-up person remembering every detail, counting the freckles, feeling the depth of a scar, certain that the future has no limits. Thinking of that moment later gives you butterflies and gets you through this dark time.

Sierra Nallo: On my last true outing before Ghana put in place their lockdown, I went to the beach. I encountered a group of young men who offer horse rides and noticed the deep connection they had with their horses. Mathias Muna is pictured with his horse ‘Love Me’ in a joyful moment. This memory is important to me because it was my last opportunity to photograph people and their stories in person.

Pierre Emanuel Testard: I shot this picture of Luc and Thibault – they are twin brothers – during a hot summer day in the suburbs of Paris. Are they fighting? Are they hugging? We don’t know, and they probably don’t know either. Only sure thing here is that they are touching each other. We can feel the warmth of their skin and the water on it. During these weird times, it reminds me how much feeling is essential. How strong it is. How easy and soothing it can be to feel rather than think or speak sometimes.

Imraan Christian: This is a new artwork from (my) Ma Se Kinders series. It represents the ocean spirit of Ma; our great Mother. In South Africa, Cape Town we've been on lockdown for a month now. I miss many things about ordinary life, but Ill never take the ocean for granted ever again – many indigenous cultures believe its a place of healing and cleansing.

Sarah Stedeford: This image was taken at the School of Korean Martial arts, in New Malden. The London suburb of New Malden is home to the largest population of Korean people outside of Korea. The martial arts school, centred in the heart of the community, is a space where cultures meet, share and learn from each other, and most importantly, make friends. This image reminds me that although we are in isolation, we stand strong together.

Victoria Barmak: I met Adrian, Matias, and Genn (the day this was taken). I remember we planned this shoot for a contest in a Mexico City museum. Turns out the contest was fake, but we ended up having a great time. I can only say that to me this is just love and freedom. When my mind travels back to this moment all I can think of is that we all deserve to breathe and be. Be outside.

Lewis Hayward: Air shaking from the sound, weaving, squeezing between dancing bodies. Met by an organised chaos of waiting lines, cooling down, laughing, looking, assessing. Someone pushes in front, orders, turns around and apologises as they reach for their friends to order. I shuffle back, make way and smile a don’t worry smile. The small interactions that provide a range of emotions. Turn around and look in to the crowd and smile with joy.

Netti Hurley: From outer space she comes. 3am. V plays dancehall on her phone. We turn black ocean into air. Dive off the edge.

Sometimes I like to arrive at a moment blindly. As if I came to it from a year before with no knowledge of anything that existed in-between. I love this sense of unfamiliarity. and freedom.

Lumia Nocito: At the beginning of June (last year), a month in which the world begins to settle into summer, my girlfriends and I decided to take a trip out of the city. After a busy school year, where we were finally getting used to ourselves at 20, we were able to forget the confusion of our age, and our shedding process had begun. No words can express the joy of this weekend trip. To be this carefree at an age where we quietly watch the carelessness of our childhood move farther away from our grasp felt like a blessing. Every day we would swim in the pool and kiss the sun, and revel in each other’s company. I love my girlfriends, and I miss capturing the spirit of these magical times more than ever.

Alec McLeish: I shot this about two years ago in June, probably the last time I went skating. Not skating isn’t really a big deal. We’d been out all day and were hanging around at a spot not really doing anything. The off licence was shut and decisions being made about what pub to go to. Low summer light was hitting the back wall behind us and we started messing about doing little shadows and shapes. What I miss here isn’t the skating, it’s the listless playfulness and incidental games made up on the spot to pass the time.

Sophia Wilson: This is one of my best friends, Callie, who is an incredibly talented DJ and producer. She is also an amazing travel buddy. This photo is from this past summer when we went to LA for a few weeks together. She was recording at this one studio up in Hollywood Hills and their backyard was just so incredibly gorgeous so we were just appreciating the moment and soaking it all in before we had to come back to NYC.

Stanislaw Graham: Basketball is a huge part of my life, when traveling I always gravitate towards the basketball courts. Walking one morning in Havana, Cuba I walked by a local court. This group of boys were playing basketball in the rain, I took a few images and kept walking. Looking back it reminds me of all the times I would be playing basketball with my best friend in my parents’ driveway in the rain.

Kwabena Appiah-Nti: This shot was taken in a small surfing village in Ghana, my father’s homeland. In Ghana, when the church services are over, people that live near the beaches all meet up at there and go swimming. There is a big beach culture over there. You see kids and grown people just playing in the waves, no one is too old to go swim and have fun.

Frankie Perez: This photo strikes an emotional chord for me because its subject is a close friend I grew up breakdancing with. A personal struggle he went through led to a hiatus from breaking but he overcame and I’m so happy to have him around again. I shot this while he was just starting to embrace his new found freedom, and looking at it now inspires me to overcome my own anxiety from the pandemic. The current uncertainty makes it hard to know when I’ll share the floor with those I care about again but I look forward to it being that much more meaningful once this is all over.

Scott Simock: Late May 2019, a group of friends and I travelled to Malawi to build a primary school. To have the ability to travel half way across the world and settle down in a village and to remain healthy feels like an incredible blessing right now. We would spend every day working and sweating side by side, eating with our hands and pass food around to each other, hugging, dancing, playing games together. To have the ability to connect so deeply with a culture far different than our own was always special, but now its taken a whole new form of gratitude. (Pictured here is Kendall Schmidt).

Lihi Brosh: I miss most the moments before going out, when you are dressing up, and presenting what you have on your mind as a visual form. To put on some lipstick and flaunt it. A piece of fabric can affect your whole energy. It can make you feel inspired. It can make you remember a moment. I appreciate fashion now more than ever, I will never take it for granted.

Isabel Okoro: This is a photo from the second annual 'Go Skate' day in Lagos. Skating/BMX freestyles aren't typically welcome in Lagos because there's just so much going on, but this was a day where that community could come together and have fun without having to worry about the politics. Even though this was almost two years ago, it's still vivid in my memory. I can't forget the rain on that day and how it didn't stop anyone from showing out.

Alice Plati: This was snapped on day two of a long roadtrip that a group of friends and I went on last summer. Our first stop was at The Root Community for a music festival in Mohawk Valley, New York. As a freelance artist, I recall a part of me feeling apprehensive about leaving the city and missing potential paid opportunities for work.

Gabriel blissfully splashing his face with crispy, cold water, crystallises the moment where I allowed myself to take pleasure in the power of simply being alive, surrounded by some of my best friends in the world. This memory reminds me that the sum of my value goes beyond my net worth. It extends to shared experiences with people who have transformed my concept of joy.

Eliza Hatch: This photo is from a Dream Wife concert which encompasses celebration, freedom, and coming together in every possible way. The theme was ‘prom’, the space was safe, and the energy was electric.

Stas G: This is a picture of skateboarders reviewing the footage after a performed trick, which is always a breathtaking moment. Before the trick is done, a skateboarder can spend hours or days trying. Now this feels especially precious and I really miss these reckless sunny days with my crew, the feeling of community, and the excitement for a friend rolling away with a landed trick. Although I personally don’t skate anymore, being in isolation, I still feel that the skateboard community is an important part of my life.

Eva Losada: This image is from a Sanchez-Kane performance (Mexican designer). We were taking for granted body contact and sexuality, we were used to be with people, with freedom, without time or place limitations without valuing enough the senses, the skin, a touch, a kiss, a feeling. Now we are seeing body expression and sexuality only through the screen and we are realising how important is the real contact. To use the five senses and not just one, the sight. I think once this is over, we are going to enjoy every second of human contact, get more creative and make other enjoy and experiment pleasure focusing in every tiny detail, value human body, and the pleasure possibilities it has.