It was the 9th March 2020 - the first day of Italy’s lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I was roaming the once bustling streets of Milan with my Sony Alpha 7R III and Sony FE 28mm f/2 lens, shooting reportage images that would record the historical event, and people’s reactions to it. I remember the day was cloudy and cold; the weather perfectly represented people’s emotions of the day and the uncertainty of what would follow.
Suddenly I saw a lady approaching, wearing what, at the time, was the unusual sight of a mask and gloves. She had her arms raised and was covering her eyes with her hands like she was trying to protect herself. It was such a surreal moment, yet it summed up the mood of the nation at the time - everything was unknown.
When I shooting reportage images like this one, I need to be able to shoot quickly and discreetly, so I find that the combination of Alpha 7R III and Sony FE 28mm f/2 lens work perfectly for me. The lens is wide enough that I can capture some of the scene, which helps tell the story, whilst the small camera and fixed lens means I can react instantly when I see a shot. Factor in the sharpness of the lens and high resolution and dynamic range of the camera's image sensor, and I am able to capture detailed images, even in the shadow areas.
I shot the image using a manual exposure so I had full control over the light on what was a dull day. By using a slow shutter speed of just 1/50th sec and following the lady as she walked, I was able to keep her sharp, whilst creating a slight motion blur on the background. This creates a tension in the image.
To me this photograph serves as a reminder of the fear and uncertainty that the world had during the first period of the Covid-19 lockdown. The virus was unknown and we had this fear of not knowing exactly how to protect ourselves from it. It changed our society and we can still feel its effects today, more than a year and a half later.
"To me, photography does not give answers, but emotions and questions"