The Belgian photographer Nick Hannes took this picture of his daughter Billie last Easter, when the pandemic had first upended the world. It is one of the early pictures in his visual diary of lockdown, which he calls An Unexpected Lesson in Joy. The images, such as this one, all concentrate on his two daughters and his wife and their house near Ghent and the shed at the bottom of the garden and the hens they keep. They capture all the disconcerting insularity of the last year, the way that the crisis returned many families to older rhythms: working together in the daytime, never apart in the evenings, sitting around fire pits looking at the stars – vaguely craving more excitement, more novelty, more Easter eggs! And smiling at the strangeness. “An invisible virus has managed to slow down everything and everyone,” Hannes writes, “something which humanity, with all its whims and wisdom, failed to do.”

Hannes has not often been so slowed down. His previous photo books include a year-long trip by bus and train through the former Soviet Union, in search of post-communist ironies, and an epic project entitled Mediterranean: The Continuity of Man, which involved assignments to 20 countries that border the sea, exploring the themes, as he says, of “mass tourism, urbanisation, migration, conflict and crises of various kinds”. There are no such conflicts or crises in his lockdown portfolio. The wider world has become a map on the kitchen wall. The farthest his camera travels are the neighbouring woods and fields and yet, the more he looks, there is no shortage of surprise. “Despite our empty diary, the days are full,” Hannes notes. “Time flies… every night before I go to sleep, I watch my daughters sleeping. I wonder what the world will look like when they’re 46.”

  • An Unexpected Lesson in Joy, self-published in collaboration with the Falabella Stable, is available from Nick Hannes’s website for €22 (£19)

This content first appear on the guardian

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *