Kenny Brown: The Lockdown life of a Photographer

As Greater Manchester heads towards Tier 3 of the Governments new set of lockdown restriction, I find myself asking how much worse 2020 can get. I’ve also started looking forward to 2021, albeit with the same level of trepidation as a first time skydiving student, who finds themselves in that ‘arse-twitching’ moment between pulling the ripcord, and the parachute opening. Hope, it would seem, is an essential requirement during strange times that we live in.

Pixies – Kenny Brown

I find myself reflecting on how 2020, and how it started with such promise; I was able to shoot the Pixies gig, and as someone who’s a fan, it was an absolute pleasure. It was one of the busiest pits I’ve been it, so you really needed your dancing shoes on, as not to get knocked over, but great fun all the same. As a photographer, I love shooting live music. It’s the energy that I feed off. The buzz that comes from the crowd behind you, and the artist in front, it’s a real adrenalin kick.

Lewis Capaldi – Kenny Brown

In the pit for Lewis Capaldi was great fun, as he has a great interaction with the crowd. He doesn’t just come on, sing his songs and then leave. There’s a real element of fun in his show, which is great.

Covering Morrissey at Leeds arena was a strange one, as we all thought we would be let into the pit, then suddenly we where led to the sound & lighting desk, and told that we had to shoot from there. Keeping in mind that the S&L desk is about 50 metres away from the stage, with a crowd of about 5000 people in front of you, you realise you just have to deal with it.  Thankfully, I was able to stand on stand on the barrier that surrounded the desk, but I still had to crop into the image to get something from the frame. That’s one of the small mercies of using a Hi-res DSLR.

The Stereophonics in Manchester – Kenny Brown

In the pit for The Stereophonics at Manchester Arena, for what was to be my last gig of the year, was an absolute blinder. We had been taken right to the end of the runway and told not to move. Just as I was worrying that I’m gonna have to shoot on a long lens, the bands tour photographer, Hans-Peter van Velthoven, leans over to me and says “Wait for chorus. That’s when the lighting really kicks in”, and he wasn’t wrong.

2020 suddenly decided to rogue, and before I knew it, it was national lockdown. During this time, as for most other working photographers, all the work disappeared. No gigs, no editorials, no fashion, no nothing. 

Then, with the murder of George Floyd in America, there was this ground swell. Anger, disgust, and an overwhelming feeling that ‘enough is enough’, people from all walks of life, using social media, email, word of mouth, came together to protest. I now found myself documenting people power. Covering the first 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in Manchester started as work. It was very much a case of, get the images, file them to an agency, and then hope that they sell. This was also the case for the XR (Extinction Rebellion) protests. 

Now this is where I get all a bit ‘Hippy’, but I honestly believe that 2020 as a year, is not about Covid-19, but that it’s actually about change, and that it’s an opportunity for us all to do things in a better way. The only problem is, that a lot of people don’t like change, and so they fight against it. But without change, we don’t progress, we don’t grow, we fail to learn the lessons of the past, and so subsequently, we miss a golden opportunity for something better.

Jay Chambers – Kenny Brown

By the second BLM protest, and various other protests that began to take place, I realised that something changed, and I started to feel that for me as a photographer, it was much about ‘documenting the event’, rather than just feeding the media. Don’t get me wrong, I still file images to the agencies, but that’s not the driving force behind the process. So, I started to spend more time looking for specific images, talking to people, engaging with your fellow humans, and you soon find that, it’s the interaction that lays the groundwork for getting the images. This process allows for new connections to be made, and in time this leads to other images being made, such as the portrait of Rap/spoken word artist, Jay Chambers. Which brings me back to taking photographs of musicians, going full circle if you will.

Nicola Lewis-Dixon: Limited Focus, a Documentary of Family Life in Lockdown

What it seems the family album does is to tell the story from the adults’ point of view, particularly from a patriarchal point of view… it’s telling the story in that way, all the highlights and ideal parts, that creates a whole set of gaps and absences, that you can’t fill the rest in.’

Jo Spence

It seems fitting to discuss this project of Lockdown as we teeter on the edge of a similar circumstance. I myself have found myself having to suddenly had to juggle a self isolating child due to a school Covid positive within his ‘bubble’. 

This adapted ‘counter’ photography series looks inward at us as a family during the covid-19 pandemic, using the couch as an anchor. The series portrays re-photography in linear time and highlights newly forming identity, new rituals merged with old, along with the narrative and performance of everyday family life. Reflecting on the adaptability of this new normal way of forced domestic family living. A concept of three chosen images of a possible five that were taken was soon decided and to carry on, until life regained some normality. Little did I know how massive this undertaking was to become. Starting on Thursday the 19th of mach and carried on until Thursday the 3rd of September, equating to 504 final images. 

The final large collection shows the highs and the lows of family life. The title idea ‘Limited Focus’ struck almost immediately into the project. I was setting the camera and tripod and taking test shots, and struggling to find the best way to keep everything in focus. Furthermore, discovering that I liked the accidental effects of the sporadic blurry images. The parallel of the blur and limited focus of the camera, along my own limited hazy focus of the unknown seemed apt.

People/families always have a level of habit and rituals in life, but after 24 weeks of the severe and enforced restrictions to life, these rituals are undisturbed and ever so more apparent. Somedays they are totally to be in-braced and relished, other times it feels like you are trapped in arut of our own making. A surreal mixture of the films Groundhog Day, 28 Days Later and Rear Window. As Dr Katrin Joost suggests ‘The shrinking of our space and the forcing of people being together, but also the taring of people being apart globally’.

‘My entire life seems to have been founded on conflict. Both within my family and through wider social contexts, it felt as if there were a continual war going on just beneath the surface, threatening to break out if certain rituals were not observed.’ 

‘to better understand how, through visual forms of representation, our subjective views of selves, and others, are structured and held across the institutions of media, and through hierarchical social relationships.’        

Jo Spence

Conceptually and theoretically the work has been underpinned with Jo Spence’s  foundation of what she coined, ‘counter photography’. Looking into the idea of the family album being non representative of realistic family life. Family albums do indeed show the good and posed side of the domestic setting, but omits the realities. The same could be true for peoples social media feeds today. The final out come of the project was to address this, showing both the highs and lows of this pandemic. The banality of life, sometimes in performance. The image of me hoovering, it suddenly struck me to say ‘feet up’, something I have never said before, but my own mother has in the past, and I assume My husbands mother had, as he did exactly what I hoped he would do.

Although my husband is very hands on in the house and we have a very equal domestic ground, I felt being torn as the dynamics changed to me being the one working from home. Therefore leaving most things up to Andy. I felt ‘conflicted’ a ‘bad’ mother and wife, that working was utterly selfish. Unlike Andy my work has always had to fit into my domain of motherhood and this switch even as a ‘feminist’ was difficult because of as suggested in Spences quote above ‘ through hierarchical social relationships’. Society has drummed it into me that this was not acceptable.

Home Is Where the Heart Is – Daniel Oyegade

‘Home is where the heart is’ explores the efficacy of the pursuit of the ownership of land, specifically homes. The project asks why we seem so preoccupied with private land at the cost of community. Whereas, earlier humans lived communally and shared recourses, it seems as though people are retreating more and more into their own separate social bubbles. Until around 10,000 years ago, there were few, if any, permanent homes or villages. People constantly moved around from place to place. The nomadic life of a traveler meant that the people had few possessions. They only took what they could carry. With the proliferation in agriculture, humans traded the life of a hunter-gatherer in favor of growing crops. As time progressed, amassing land became a priority since the amount of land one owned was proportional to their standard of living.

Rather than living communally as humans had done previously, we developed concepts such as private property, further excluding ourselves from others. The project asks if our attachment to the ownership of homes is irrational. There is not necessarily a need for private property perhaps it would make more sense to live communally sharing resources rather than working for years to own a home. As the recent and ongoing lockdown has shown many of us, catharsis is found not found in maintaining one’s own personal bubble but rather, in venturing out and connecting with others.

The project is in essence, a thought experiment, illustrating how life might be if we were to take the preoccupation with privacy to its absurd conclusion. The project consists of twelve images and a short film, using visual storytelling to start a conversation about the way in which the lust for privacy may be increasing instances of loneliness and other such emotions.

I decided to use the familiar backdrop of isolation to frame the ideas. The central character remains dissatisfied with her surroundings, despite her adornment in numerous luxury garments. Her pretence of being content with this lifestyle is gradual shattered through the introspection that comes writing notes to herself.

Educational Lockdown; Photography Teaching during a Pandemic with Emma Spencer

The year was going exceptionally well, students preparing for their end of year shows; the feeling of accomplishment after two years of hard work coming to an end. Students began to create their final pieces and talk about their parents seeing what they have achieved over the past couple of years and their excitement for their future grew, all the stress leading up to their end results was starting to feel worth it.

But that’s when it hit, the 16th of March 2020. Students told to go home with the real possibility of never coming back. Never having closure, the feeling of fulfilment snatched from them, their exam dates unknown, their grades thrown into turmoil and the real possibility of their health being affected not just now, but in the coming months and possibly years.

I remember it so well, the panic as the college closed and students were told to go home and study online, many ways of working disrupted, and new ways of thinking and teaching expected over night. Teachers had to think on their feet and come up with a new way to teach the arts without support and guidance, without the hands-on experience that they were used to providing.

How do you teach photography without being able to show a student how to work a camera in person, how can you show the process of developing their first film without the resources for everyone? It took careful planning, patience, forward thinking and a lot of home videos! The teacher I work alongside prepared small tasks to complete with the available resources they had, and I provided technical support where possible, creating a YouTube channel with helpful videos that students could watch and gain inspiration or knowledge from, with even a few documentaries thrown in for fun. 

But even now after the lockdown restrictions been somewhat lifted the challenges still continue and many staff feel as though they are working on the front line with many schools and colleges closing due to the high increase in covid19 cases, students must wear masks and gloves while handling all photography equipment and they cannot even put the camera up to their faces! This means our students are having to learn a different way of seeing, through live view; which has its own challenges. Not only does this pandemic challenge us, it also restricts us, for example; students cannot currently use film cameras due to their hands-on nature, which is a major aspect of learning the basic tools and skills of photographic practice. For many students, whom are currently only on site one day per week, we have to achieve as much as possible from that one day of practice. Whether this be learning cyanotypes, photograms or digital negatives in that one hour we try to pack in as much in as possible.

There has been one notable change in students, that we have noticed; students are developing quicker and their outcome seems to be improving faster as they first research the technique, then practice it in college. This seems to make the students into better photographers as they know what is expected from the technique before trying it, and they can see how other photographers have achieved their final outcome and learn from their successes. Photographers, like many people, are adaptable and as teachers of photography we will continue to find the best way to make learning the art we love fun and informed to give our students a step in the best possible direction for their futures in the industry; with or without covid19.

Emma Spencer is a 2018 Uclan photography graduate, Emma became interested in photography from a young age and began her career as a freelance wedding photographer, She spent 3 years developing these skills and then decided to pursue her passion further by studying photography at degree level, after developing a passion for education Emma undertook an internship with Uclan and then finally began working as a photography technician, Emma has won several awards for her photography and has had work published in books and magazines. If you are interested in working on a project with Emma you can contact her through her website

Written by Emma Spencer
Edited by Alistair Grimley

Teacher and Student: Nathan Cox on Education during Lockdown

We asked Nathan Cox to go through what it has been like for him juggling being a teacher and an Masters student;

On the eve of what looks like another full lockdown I’ve been asked to write about my experiences of the first lockdown, although I know my situation wasn’t completely unique it wasn’t the norm. I came at lockdown education from two angles, first being a tutor teaching a module to Level 4 degree students and the second being an MA student completing my modules and final major project.

My lockdown started in stages,  I knew that it was coming but it seemed like an age before it was confirmed and it culminated, like for most people on March the 23rd when Uni, college and schools went into full lockdown.

Thinking back now is a strange contemplation; it is a cliché but it does seem like such a long time ago, the complete unknown and May that became such a long year.

I juggled the teaching of the module, which was mercifully coming to an end of specific taught practices, but still had the handing in and assessment stages to complete. Part of that was final printed matter and a certain physicality that could not be enabled through a screen, but all of this would be considered and the students did very well. It was great to see them tackle this adversity and overcome it. Great life lessons for all concerned and the situation presented some new opportunities that I intend to carry forward into teaching further modules and independent practices in future.

My MA modules followed a similar learning path; the use of Microsoft Teams from the other angle was an invaluable experience and one the MA has taught me throughout; seeing teaching from a student angle in real time rather than from my last educational experience, 25 years ago. This situation has taught me to look for things to be grateful for and the things I’m most grateful for in this scenario are that I’m so glad I started my “Socially Engaged” module when I did – before lockdown! This gave me a foundation of work to draw upon so even though it didn’t reach completion, as in I didn’t have chance to do the exhibition with the groups and that I couldn’t start my big “This is Stockport” idea off in ideal circumstances, I still got it to a desired outcome. My other module was the “New Media” which was slightly more affected the imagery produced as the idea and adaptations changed form week to week.

The big thing that loomed large on the horizon was my final project. I had intended it to be a large piece of work exploring themes and ideas surrounding the notion of photographic practices. This was eventually, either by the situation, or just generally shaped into a New Topographical theme based on a trip to get my mum a new microwave. Some of the images can be viewed on my instagram feed (link at the bottom of this post).

The production of the work and the words was a solitary endeavour, with much outside critical evaluation, partly from necessity, by design, timely needs and the situation.  I’m sure this approach will affect the final grade but it is what it is.

So thinking about the purpose of this piece, which I think, would be to pass on my experiences and therefore advice:

Keep trying to produce the work, no matter what that is. Make an image out of what you have to hand, set small projects, make time, look through your archives. Sometimes it’s just the act of making time for any aspect of your work that spurs you on to other things. Art is seemingly the one way out of this mess; you can see evidence that it is, with the current government’s persecution of it.  The establishment hates it, so make more of it, have fun with it, take it seriously, share it especially in arenas like the Two Forty Four Network, or keep it to yourself, whatever you can – just keep making it and be kind to yourself in that process. It’s ok if you don’t produce anything today, sometimes the sheer act of trying is enough and if that’s not possible then recharge for when you can.

So with all the above in mind, during this situation I have managed to produce some images that have no real home within a project, apart from the Covid diaries format of imagery that I fear is now so populated as to render it indiscernible and invalid from assessment. So here I present 8 images from the last 8 months.

Thank you for reading.

You can see my work here at or on Instagram at or read my ramblings on Twitter at

Equidistant Exile Schedule

We have a week full of discussion and new creative work in-store from a variety of creative practitioners from Two Forty Four and beyond… Here is what you can expect! (More articles are being added to our line up all the time so be sure to keep an eye on the blog and our instagram feed for the unexpected!)

Blog Post Schedule

Instagram posting will follow the same time frame

Monday 19th13:00 – Calum Heywood’s introduction to his Isolated Portrait series.
14:00 – A Schedule of the Weeks events.
Tuesday 20th13:00 – Another Isolated Portrait from Calum’s series.
14:00 – Limiting the Frame, the Landscape through the Window by Alistair Grimley.
Wednesday 21st11:00 – Nathan Cox on being both a student and teacher during the national lockdown.
13:00 – Another Isolated Portrait from Calum’s series.
18:00 – Educational lockdown; Photography teaching during a pandemic by Emma Spencer.
Thursday 22nd11:00 – Home is where the Heart is by Daniel Oyegade.
13:00 – Another Isolated Portrait from Calum’s series.
14:00 – Lisa Oldroyd discusses the challenges of being a mother and PhD student.
– Nicola Dixon on being a parent, home teacher and photography student in lockdown.
Friday 23rd11:00 – Orrin Pierre: The Darkroom in Isolation.
13:00 – Another Isolated Portrait from Calum’s series.
14:00 – Naomi Lee Voss on Photo Walks as a method of creative inspiration.
15:00 – Kenny Brown on working as a freelance photojournalist during Lockdown.
Saturday 24th13:00 – Calum’s final Isolated Portrait
15:00 – Live Artist Talk with Calum Heywood, hosted by Alistair Grimley and Lisa Oldroyd.
15:45 – Live Q&A with Calum, Alistair, Lisa and some other contributors from the week.
Last updated: 20/10/2020 13:17

Each day this week Calum Heywood will be presenting a new image from his brand new lockdown inspiredIsolated Portraits series and culminating in a live-streamed artist talk and Q&A with other participants on Saturday. This will be hosted by Twitch.TV and can be watched live on or on (please note that to interact with the stream via a live text chat you will need to watch directly through Twitch.TV and create a free account with them).

We have a variety of practitioners and creative thinkers posting through the week to the schedule above but given the difficult and ever-changing situation that times like these present, we may have to change or cancelled posts altogther. Keep following the blog and our instagram page for the latest updates.

We are hoping to add more posts to our line up over the week, so be sure to subscribe to our blog to get these posts direct to your inbox and follow us on Instagram for more amazing photography from our incredible members.

Enjoy Equidistant Exile, keep discussing, keep photographing and stay safe.
– The Two Forty Four Team

Introducing: Equidistant Exile

A week of original visual content and discussion exploring creativity in lockdown to better prepare for a potential second wave this winter.

19th – 24th October 2020 —

Two Forty Four is proud to present; Equidistant Exile, a week of visual content and creative discussion to better prepare for a second wave this winter.

As we stand on the edge of another potential national lockdown gripping the UK and with several regions already in partial lockdowns, there is now no better time than now to discuss how visual creativity was affected during the last national lockdown. The last lockdown saw many of us creatively crippled and understanding how our creative community overcame and adapted to the first lockdown will fundamentally help us better prepare and overcome the challenges that a second wave might present.

Starting on Monday 19th October and running throughout the week, several contributors from the Two Forty Four Network and beyond will be sharing and discussing creative practice in lockdown and isolation. Made up mainly of blog posts on and visual work sharing on instagram, the week will also feature the debut of Calum Heywoods Isolated Portraits project which was shot exclusively over the lockdown period in Lancashire. Each day of the week will feature a new portrait from Calum’s series, as yet unseen by the general public.

Isolated Portrait – Calum Heywood, 2020

The week of content will come to an end with a publicly available live streamed artist talk from PhotoUCLan Alumni and MMU post-graduate student Calum Heywood. The talk will discuss the themes of his Isolated Portraits work as well as how he molded and executed his ideas during lockdown. The talk will last approximately 40 mins (timings yet to be confirmed) and in an interview fashion with Two Forty Four co-directors Lisa Oldroyd and Alistair Grimley. But the week will be far from over, immediately following Calum’s talk there will be a live and interactive Q&A session with some of the week’s contributors where the public and Two Forty Four members can ask questions directly to our contributors.

Once completed the weeks worth of content and discussion will form an archive of creative thinking hosted by Two Forty Four and open to the public. This archive will act as a source of inspiration and reference for any creatives caught up in lockdowns or struggling with inspiration and motivation in these troubling times.

More information on our contributors and schedule will be released over the coming weeks so keep an eye on our social media platforms, especially instagram (@twofortyfournetwork) and blog for the latest announcements about Equidistant Exile.

Stay safe, keep creating and don’t give up!

Where have we been?

Welcome to the new Two Forty Four!

We’ve spent a bit of time away but we’re finally ready to show ourselves!

This is your new Two Forty Four Network:


This new incarnation of Two Forty Four looks something like this: Two Forty Four is here to provide you with everything you need to forward your photographic journey beyond your time at University. From Portfolio hosting to Careers advice, collaborative exhibitions to publications. Whether you are looking to enhance your career opportunities or develop as an artist, Two Forty Four will be with you all the way.

Our aim is to provide everything you could need to forward your photography. Support, Advice and Learning are at the heart of our plans. At the moment we are only just brining all of this online but keep a close eye on our website as more and more options become available to browse. Currently we are focusing on our social media presence, especially instagram where we want to get promoting and sharing the work of our members. Additionally we are focusing on getting this blog up and running to provide a stream of content including upcoming events and exhibitions, new work, job opportunities and more, this blog aims to be your centre of photographic information.

We envision Two Forty Four as the centre of your photographic needs. Providing information about the industry, tools to learn or refresh skills and a place to seek advice from peers.

Two Forty Four is your network, we will be with you every step of the way as your explore photography beyond University.