Photographer Kristian Buus discusses his new series of photographs and interviews, entitled 2x1 - Lockdown London Fields by Night, with the Gazette.

The only place to meet friends and family outside your corona bubble in lockdown London is outside.

With all pubs and restaurants closed, many choose the nearest park bench to catch up, some bring hot drinks, others a can of beer. Social distance rules now demand you can only meet one at a time, so meetings are now more intimate even in the freezing cold.

Many work from home so meeting up outside is important to feel the world is still turning and many meet after hours and when it's dark.

It is November and I use the pools of light in the park to grab these moments.

All photographs are taken in London Fields.

%image(15012785, type="article-full", alt="Anne and Su. Anne is a history university student, originally from Oxford, and Su, originally from the US, studies social science. They used to live together but now live in separate shared houses. Their housemates are now their bubble, so they meet on a bench to catch up. It is Saturday night and they have chosen to "go out for the night" in London Fields because of its good vibes. Both of them spend most of their time at home, so it's great to be out, even if it’s cold and on a park bench. All their coursework happens via Zoom and it demands a lot of self-discipline to keep up with the work. Anne really misses the social scene at uni and the interactions between fellow students and tutors. To get to "see" a tutor now, you have to book a time slot online, whereas in uni you could easily just knock on their door any time.")

%image(15012786, type="article-full", alt="Fanny and Jamie. Both are in the music business, Jamie is a songwriter, Fanny is a songwriter and performing singer. They wrote a song together a year and a half ago called Pretty Girls Are Never Lonely. They have met up to celebrate the song finally coming out the following week and to catch up. Unlike the first lockdown, music studios were allowed to operate as long as social distance rules were observed, and both have been very busy working with other artists. Hackney is full of music studios and both have been able to work without having to travel too far.")

%image(15012787, type="article-full", alt="Conor and Rachel Conor and Rachel are on their first date, thanks to the dating app Hinge. They met by Victoria Park much earlier, which shut its gates by sunset, so they have wandered far and wide to finally end up on this bench in London Fields. They were still laughing about their difficult beginning when I met them, so maybe they have a future together. He works in advertisement and she is a product manager for a company building websites. Rachel feels the pandemic and both lockdowns have slowed down the pace of working in London and made everything feel more democratic. No one has ever tried this before and everyone has had to adjust and learn how to function. Work life is less "show off" and who you are and how you do things is more important. Everyone has got bigger and more important worries and considerations to take into account than just work and there is a huge understanding of that. She hopes this will carry on after Covid-19, but is dreading the thought of rush hour when people again will fight their way on a train to save two minutes. Conor agrees, and says the pandemic has stripped away city life as we know it. He really enjoys that London and its noise has stopped, at least momentarily. After a lot more insightful chat and laughter, I leave them to their date and step into the dark to take their photograph.")

%image(15012789, type="article-full", alt="Ayla and Nuno The two know each other from working in the same coffee roastery in nearby Dalston Lane. The bench is the middle ground between their homes - Ayla lives in a house share, Nuno with his girlfriend, so the bench is the best place to meet. Ayla now works in a different coffee roastery and is furloughed again, which she finds very frustrating. She feels deflated and like her career is put on pause during this lockdown. “I’m running out of wardrobe items to upcycle and dystopian novels to escape through," she said. Ayla is from New Zealand and had planned to go home for the first time in three years back in March but that trip was cancelled because of lockdown one. Nuno is from Portugal and has not been back since before the pandemic. He does not like the idea of travelling much with the virus all around, so he stays mostly in and around Hackney. Both find lockdown two much easier to cope with but they both look forward to a shot of the vaccine.")

%image(15012792, type="article-full", alt="Hardip and Marra The two know each other from way back through mutual friends. Hardip was a freelance product designer, hot-desking around various coffee shops in Hackney, before she was employed and began working out of an office. This has now turned into working from home. Meeting up with Marra is a way to get out of the flat after a long day inside, helping to get you out the door. Life is much less hectic now, which is a good thing, and there is less chance of suffering from fomo (Fear Of Missing Out) because of the general lockdown, says Hardip. Marra works as a manager in a coffee shop which was open for business, takeaway only. Covid-19 means she had to adjust the way the coffee shop runs according to the rules, and over the summer they had half the tables out and now none, but being able to do takeaway means she takes the same as in summertime. The spring lockdown was the best time in her life. She was furloughed and had time for mindfulness, yoga, to relax and just be happy. Hardip feels she’ll be leaving 2020 in a better mental state than when the pandemic hit back in March, more relaxed and less worried. She has reconnected with family and friends in a way she had never done before, which has been important to her.")

%image(15012796, type="article-full", alt="Jessica and Giacomo Both originally from Italy. She works in a nearby café, he is a PHD student in marine biology. The first lockdown was very tough on Giacomo. He was working from home all the time, very worried about his friends and family back in Milan where the virus was raging and worried about catching the virus himself. He was working from home all of September and his only social interaction was going to the café where Jessica works and that’s where they became friends. Both feel less scared and stressed out about this, the second lockdown, because they feel they now know better how to stay safe and what to expect. She lives near the café where she works and apart from all the coronavirus safety measures put in place in the café and the fact it is takeaway only, she is not too affected by the lockdown. Having learned from bad experience from the first lockdown, staying at home all the time for months, Giacomo now goes to work everyday, which is half an hour walk each way, to stay mentally sane. "You have to accept this is the new normal and find a balance between staying safe from the virus and keeping your mental health," Giacomo said. It is the night before Jessica’s birthday and the two friends have been on a long walk, now taking a short break, before heading home separate ways.")