London Silenced-Reflections of a City in Lockdown

The story of self-publishing a book

I have been asked many times how this all started and the answer is it grew very gradually. I do have to sometimes pinch myself to believe that I actually managed to publish my book, London Silenced in November 2021!


Picture the scene: it is March 2020 and London truly does fall silent in the midst of a world pandemic. We are all thrown into disarray and told to stay at home. Mercifully we are allowed to go out for an hour each day and this is when I started taking photographs of the empty streets of London which were totally deserted. I posted these photographs on Instagram and Facebook and the scenes were met with incredulity especially from those friends and followers who were out of London and couldn’t believe their eyes!

From there, and in the company of my dog, Stella, I started walking a bit further afield and began really studying buildings which I had known all my life but had not ever had the time to examine closely. Again, friends and followers remarked that I had an eye for a composition and that I seemed to find different and unusual angles from which to take the photographs. I tried to convey the eeriness and silence of the city through my photographs and many people said I succeeded. It was a truly amazing moment when having entered 10 photographs into the Evening Standard ‘Life in Lockdown Photography Competition’ in August 2021 I came 1st, 4th and 9th.

Hugely buoyed up by all this encouragement we can fast forward a few months and the next thing I know I am talking to publishers. They were telling me that it would take a long time and the book unfortunately would not be ready for Christmas 2021. Feeling rather exasperated and with the help of a good friend, I decided to go it alone…

I spent hours and days choosing which photographs to put in the book and even more hours placing them and writing the text. My attempts at creating a book on my computer then had to be sent to a designer who transferred it onto the Indesign programme which in turn went off to the printer. This all sounds very straightforward but there are many things to discover and I was lucky enough to have another friend who had just published a book and who was also very generous with advice such as getting an ISBN number. All these things were like learning a new language for me!

The moral of the story is that anything is possible… So many people have said that they took lots of photographs during lockdown and that they would have loved to create a book. It is a bit like going to an art exhibition – I remember once looking at a picture that literally had one line across it and saying to somebody, ‘I could have done that’. Their immediate response was, ‘Yes but you didn’t”. It’s the same as this.

Now the question on everyone’s lips is… ‘What is the next project?’ Who knows? Maybe an exhibition? I am gathering ideas. The joy of discovering a passion for photography at this stage of my life is tremendous and I still jump for joy when I capture a moment with my lens that I know is pretty close to perfect!

©2022 Clare Tollemache Photography

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