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FOCUS: George Brooks

7 May 2020

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© George Brooks

There are some really brilliant creative projects coming out of the current situation we find ourselves all in.  When George Brooks shared his lockdown project on the AOP Forum we knew it was one to share with our wider community. We spoke to George to find out more about what makes him tick and his project Social Distance 2020.

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© George Brooks

When did you decide photography was the career for you?

At 18 I did the Arts Foundation course at Leicester Poly and struggled. I couldn’t paint, sculpt, do textiles or graphics. It was a hugely creative environment but I was hopeless. Then in the photography module I had to shoot, develop and print a b/w self portrait and finally it came together and made complete, beautiful sense. I knew without doubt I’d found my career. 


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© George Brooks


What elements do you believe identify a professional photographer to that of a person that simply takes amazing images?

Many folks can take a decent picture. A professional has to take amazing images every time, on time, under pressure and fulfil the brief.

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© George Brooks


What three pieces of kit would you take to your own desert island?

My iPhone, an indestructible case and solar charger.


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© George Brooks


Since the lockdown began you have been using your time to shoot a new project ‘Social Distance 2020’ we’d love to hear more about how you shot it, the subjects and how you found the inspiration.

I wanted to document this crazy time but without a commission I realised the most important thing was to stay home with my family and comply with the lockdown. Eventually, when things began to settle down I wondered if it might be possible to make the lockdown restrictions part of the project and cover the story from my own front door. I put hazard tape on the road 2m from my gate, set up lights for fill flash and put my camera with a wide open 50mm lens on a tripod by the door. With my daughter Eva and Ruby the dog both helping, I asked passers by to pause for a moment, ask what their journey was about that day and if they would participate.

The first person I spoke to was Iris with her funny story about ice cream. She was confident, cheerful and immediately understood what I was doing and set the tone for the rest of the project. Nearly everyone I asked agreed to take part and wanted to share their experience of this unique time, even the police and Bob the bus driver. It was, and still is, great fun to meet everyone, which I think we all found it to be a relief from the pressure of lockdown. 


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© George Brooks - Social Distance 2020


What activities have the AOP championed that have changed or impacted on the way you work or your personal career?

Copyright and licensing has been the biggest issue and is just about the hardest thing I find to get right. It’s a constant problem that keeps me awake when I think I’ve got it wrong. The support of the AOP and a community of like-minded photographers is a huge help.


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© George Brooks


Visit the online exhibition Social Distance 2020 here

View more of George's work in Find 


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