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AUB Commercial Photography examines life in lockdown


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Using the COVID-19 lockdown as a springboard, AUB Commercial Photography student Rachel Kolb has launched an online community to explore the pandemic and its global impact.

The final year undergraduate student decided to create the Isolation Instagram channel after seeing how the lockdown had changed the ways in which her coursemates were interacting. The channel, which exclusively posts content from all levels of Commercial Photography at the university, also hosts content from AUB’s Technician Demonstrators and Course Staff.

Rachel said: “Our course is so heavily reliant on collaboration and working in our creative teams to produce our work. As soon as lockdown was announced it felt like our course was grinding to a halt, projects would have to be left unfinished or not shot. Our coursemates were quickly travelling back to their retrospective homes, and suddenly everyone was scattered all over the globe.”

She added: “Uni bound us all together with the common interest to create great work together, suddenly without uni everything felt uncertain, socially everything felt quiet and morale was low.

“I made the Commercial Photography Isolation page as a way to stay in touch with one another on the course. To help inspire each other to keep making work in order to share the stories from everybody's corner of the world. It has had a really positive response, with new images been shared daily and people from within the industry have already noticed the page and have been engaging with the work, which is really great to see.”

Interesting projects include Charlotte Chamberlain’s The Child Within. Now studying in her final year at AUB, Charlotte’s series of self-portrait images explore the introspective themes of childhood and nostalgia through a vivid colour palette and intriguing miniature perspective.

First year students like Jack Manners have taken the subject of lockdown and explored it through different contexts. Jack’s series has explored the loneliness and sparsity of his daily walks interspersed with detail perhaps especially considered while escaping confinement.

Meanwhile, fellow undergraduate Bella Hale’s perspective work focuses on the unassuming heroes of the pandemic; carers and key workers. Her image of young care worker Maddy, serves to commemorate the tireless work of the extraordinary people at the heart of a global crisis.

The channel has also been celebrating the ingenuity and resourcefulness of students from across the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, who have taken to set-making, makeup, and even virtual direction in order to guide, light, frame and author images remotely.

BA Commercial Photography Course Leader Conrad Tracy said: “As you can imagine, during the start of the pandemic, our students were unsurprisingly feeling very anxious. Rachel has always been a very proactive member of her year, and has been at the forefront of organising and planning for the students’ London Grad Show, Blink, and therefore the best person to bounce a few ideas around when trying to find something for the students to focus on, and maintain a sense of group cohesion.

“This resulted in Rachel starting the AUB Com Photo Isolation Instagram page, which has allowed students on Commercial Photography, from L4 to L7, the opportunity to show work made in isolation, during CV19, or to showcase recent course work.”

He added: “The Instagram page has given students, and staff, the opportunity to share their work, keep in touch, and support each other creatively during these strange times. Rachel has done a great job, curating the page, and helping to keep a virtual sense of AUB positivity and sense of community.”

Speaking about the eventual demise of the page, Rachel said: “I have often thought what will happen to this Instagram account once the world returns to normal, my thoughts are that the work will probably dry up as students return to their normal working setups.

“The group will eventually become inactive, an account frozen in time so that we can look back on it in years to come. Like a visual diary, it will remain as a documentary to remember this bizarre event that happened in our lives, and to show and educate future generations who never lived through it.”

View AUB Commercial Photography’s Isolation project on Instagram

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