We have been thrilled at the number of entries submitted for our Lockdown Stories series. Last week, one featured photographer was Emma Sohl of Capture the Light Photography. Here at Loxley Colour, we found Emma’s story so interesting and relevant to what is happening in the UK today, that we had to go into more depth and discover more about her experiences photographing Captain Tom.
Picking up the camera
The Covid-19 lockdown was unexpected for so many people and for a lot of photographers, it meant their 2020 calendars were irreversibly changed. As a studio newborn photographer, Emma’s bookings from March this year had to be cancelled and resulted in her not touching her camera for almost a month!
Her friend Daisy reached out to Emma the night before Captain Tom was due to complete his ‘final’ 10 laps:
“Daisy had been involved in sending out a press release to get some media coverage of his 100 laps walk, and the interest had exploded! They were worried about the huge interest there was in his story, about too many photographers wanting to attend, and maintaining social distancing for Tom.”
They wanted Emma to be the sole photographer for the occasion, and it required an early start the following morning after a month of no photography where she would have to carry out a task completely different to her usual line of work:
“It was a huge change from my usual studio-based photography with babies and young children, but I’ve been a photographer for 13 years and luckily over this time I’ve photographed lots of different genres in different environments, so I was able to make it work.”
Emma was actually pleased she only had a few hours to prepare for her first shoot with Captain Tom. Being out of her comfort zone forced her to face the task head-on:
“It was also such short notice that I didn’t have much time to think about it, really. I’m sure that with more notice I would have worried more!”
The biggest good news story of 2020
As we all now know, Captain Tom’s story captured hearts across the UK and around the world. He raised over £23 million for the NHS during the Coronavirus crisis by completing 100 laps in his garden. After Emma’s first photoshoot with him, she was invited back on a few more occasions:
“I was asked back on several other occasions by the family – to photograph Captain Tom with an Olympic torch, with his Guinness World Records, with his chart number one trophy and when he became an honorary Colonel and was awarded his additional medals. I was also asked to be the only photographer on his 100th birthday, which was a huge honour.”
As the sole photographer for all these big moments in Captain Tom’s fundraising, Emma found her work spreading much further than she ever anticipated with this job:
“The photographs I took during the Spitfire fly-past were quickly edited on my laptop and then sent out to the press – and was the front-page story in most national papers the following day! I had no idea when I said ‘yes’ to donating a few hours of my time only a week before, that it would lead to my photographs being used for the biggest good news story of 2020!”
Emma’s advice to any fellow photographers looking to source work during the lockdown is to keep your options open and to not dismiss potential opportunities simply because they’re out of your comfort zone:
“The advice I would give to other photographers who are currently struggling thanks to Covid-19 is to keep an open mind and be prepared to be flexible about what you shoot. Maintain relationships with past clients, as you never know what this will lead to, and see everything as an opportunity!”