Quality of life. Hmm. In the midst of a pandemic. Wake up, work, sleep, repeat. That is, if you still have a job. Not so great. But photographer Jackson Payne’s photo book, Life in London – made through his independent publisher, Quality Of Life, is a sun-soaked reminder of what could be waiting for us at the end of this seemingly never-ending lockdown cycle.
In March last year Payne released Time On Our Hands – a 110 page photo book impressively compiled in two weeks, bringing together artists and photographers including Jeremy Deller, Scott King, Lauren Maccabee, Lucien Clarke and Glenn Kitson, with 100 per cent of proceeds going to the Royal College of Nursing fund. After its release, adidas approached Payne to put together a book, with an accompanying east London exhibition celebrating creatives in the city.
“These are collections of images that all share some loose geographical and chronological connection,” the 36-year-old says on his DIY project. “You don’t really need a bunch of budget to put a photo book together – just enough to design and print it. And enough energy to go around bugging people for submissions!”
When the restrictions were eased last August, Payne rallied together a group of photographers who whipped out their cameras and captured Londoners out enjoying the summer sun with temperatures soaring well past 30°.
No shoots were commissioned in advance. Rather, Payne asked people to submit anything they thought would fit the bill – recording the weirdest summer in London. “That made it more fun in a way, seeing what we could come up with, with very limited resources,” he says. “You always surprise yourself. We had so many incredible images sent in.”
The photos bring a light humour to the darkness of the last twelve months. One of Payne’s aims all along was to point out the differences we all share, while equally stuck in the same situation. “A weird, shared time,” he adds. And while the photos have us yearning for a summer with some semblance of freedom – and better weather – Quality of Life’s message is as relevant then as it is now:
“We thought, looking at how everyone else is dealing with [lockdown] – or not – it could help people realise they are not alone.”