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Life in Lockdown: Photo series captures East Dulwich families during the Coronavirus pandemic

An out-of-work photographer has taken more than 80 portraits of locked down East Dulwich families throughout the pandemic.

Irma Arrowsmith told the News when the pandemic hit and she could no longer work as a family photographer she was ‘missing everything’ about her job.

“With all my family shoots indefinitely postponed, and wanting to stay creatively challenged, I decided to reach out to the local community to see if families would be interested in a free ‘lockdown portrait’ to document this extraordinary moment in their lives.

“All the participating families are getting my photos of them for free – as my way of saying thank you for taking part and as a small gesture of solidarity in these strange times.”

The resulting project, Life in Lockdown, features portraits all taken at least two metres apart and within a 30 minute walk  of Lordship Lane. All were shot on Irma’s daily bit of exercise.

The families posed on doorsteps, balconies, in their front gardens or at their windows.

“So far I have photographed around 80 families – all different, and all with a story to tell,” Irma says.

“I have met key workers, vulnerable people shielding from the virus, mums with newborns, pregnant mothers, those who are working from home or furloughed or who have lost their jobs or income due to the pandemic – and even people who have tragically lost loved ones to COVID-19.

“I’ve also seen some excellent beards and DIY home haircuts!

“Eventually I hope to turn the collection into a local exhibition and possibly even a book.”


Wynn and Laurie wave from their window

One family photographed are currently living in a half-finished home as building work was cancelled.

Nancy’s explains:  “My little boy is called Wynn (four) and my daughter is called Laurie (seven). They go to Judith Kerr primary school.

“The house we live in is currently being renovated after three years standing empty.

“It should have been finished over a year ago, so lockdown for us has been a little stressful, as we are still living in a building site!”

Sara’s family portrait

Sara says the lockdown has helped her find inner calm and enjoy having more time with her kids.

“At first we found it a tad strange to adjust to the changes, to hide the fear from our children.

“Then we realised let’s forget the stress of the outside world and enjoy the rare time we have together and make happy memories through the pandemic, we can share with the children when they are older.

“The doorstep photo shoot was an enjoyable experience, something different and a great memory to keep.”

Kristin’s portrait

“We’ve been fortunate in that both of our jobs allow us to work from home and our daughter’s school is engaged, sending her assignments and other activities weekly.

“This has provided our family stability in a time of so much uncertainty.

“However, we are originally from Portland, Oregon, which is where all of our family is.

“We’ve been lucky to be able to visit regularly in the past, but right now they feel very much on the other side of the world.”

Katie and family

Katie recently welcomed a new addition to the family – Devon.

The family of six has lived in East Dulwich for 20 years and had been considering moving before the lockdown came into force to make more room for their growing family.

“Lockdown has meant a busy house, but one full of noise, fun and play.

“The kids have bonded really well with their baby brother and Irma has captured this perfectly in her lockdown photographs,” she says.

Gemma says she’s been homeschooling her kids – and making time for lots of playing


See the full Life in Lockdown photo series at

Follow Irma Arrowsmith on Instagram @irma_arrowsmith and Facebook: @irmaarrowsmithphotography


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