Sometimes the idea for a series begins with a single shot. When I set up my tripod up on the Haniel spoil tip for the shot above, my idea was to take an abstract image about the concept of social distancing. I wanted each person to be in their own individual “compartment,” nicely separated by the totems (which are part of an open-air art installation, by the way). Little did I know how much waiting I was getting myself into. In the end, I got the shot, but it took almost 30 minutes of waiting – and I still had to move one person digitally in Photoshop. It was then that I decided to add a question mark to the title of the image. These people were everything but socially distanced. So I decided to do a small impromptu street photography project with a more documentary approach, something I hardly ever do.
Even though I have taken images like these several times in recent years in my Silhouettes series, their current social and political context gives the resulting photographs of today their special meaning, thus turning them into something special. As always, click on an image to view it in an almost distraction-free lightbox.
Here in Germany (and probably every other country), people are quick to blame politicians for all things going wrong in the fight against the pandemic. However, many fail to see that it is just as much their own fault to quite a degree. Far too many people simply don’t care about keeping their distance, willing to take the chance of other people dying because of their actions.
The fight against the pandemic is not won by the decisions made in a politician’s office. It is won by how well the people in their everyday lives execute these decisions. With politicians now beginning to give in to the political pressure of lobbies and the people, I can only hope that people don’t only rejoice about regaining their old freedom but also remember the responsibility that comes with it. It would be best for everybody to keep practicing social distancing. Honestly, however, I don’t have much hope in this regard.