A Moment in Time

A photographic project documented lockdown Brummies

"We've come together as a family. We've eaten together. Socialised together.
We'll be a closer family when it's over".
— M.Asif, hardware store owner


"Hope." says photographer Tam Bernard, before a long a pull on his cigarette. "And community". For the last three weeks Tam has been photographing and speaking to the people of Birmingham, where they work and where they live. Standing at the end of driveways, in shop doorways, always two metres apart. His project, Brum on Brum, documents a locked down Birmingham and the overriding sense he got from his subjects can be summed up in those two words. Hope. Community.

"At one point I caught myself eating a sandwich with a knife and fork.
I think I was losing my mind."
— Liz Mason, tattoo artist  


Tam observed lockdown to the letter, surrounded as he is by at risk people, emerging only to shop for food. "It didn't bother me, missing out on photographing the deserted city before lockdown was relaxed. I get why photographers did it and why they felt it needed showing. But for me, Birmingham's never been about the physical city. It is and always will be, about the people. The story, for me, wasn't about the empty streets, it was about the full homes. It wasn't about closed shops, it was about the shops that remained open."

"I've had regulars come in who have lost their livelihoods. Some don't know where to go from here."
— Charlotte Hanlon, health store manager (and colleague, Steph) 


It's the second such project for Tam who, five years ago, launched Brum on Brum to record people's thoughts on the rapidly changing face of our city. "Nine times out of ten they'd tell me to f*** off, you know? I was in the city centre, they were dashing off to work and it was, at times, like pulling teeth. People were too busy to take part and I understood that. This time though, during lockdown, people wanted to be a part of it. Almost everyone said yes." Why? "I don't know. Maybe they understood that this is a period in our lives that needs documenting. That it's a moment in time."

"I hope we'll come back from this stronger than ever, with more respect for one another."
— Krishnan Rajput, shop proprietor


Bearwood-based Tam took his photos before asking the subjects to complete a brief questionnaire. Both the photos and the responses going up, soon, on his Instagram page: 'The last question I asked every participant was always 'How do you think the city will come out of this?' "It was amazing," explains Tam, "which one word was the most used. I heard it over and over. Together. We'll come out of this together. I hope we do because that's a hell of a positive to take from a sh*tty situation."  

"I've been feeling lonely. Powerless. Like I've been living in the dark ages."
— Mirza Rauf, taxi driver  


Brum on Brum is very much a work in progress. Tam set off on his photographic journey without any real end goal and asked what he wants to do with his shots, he's somewhat taken aback. "I haven't really thought about it, I just wanted to do it. Felt I should. Maybe when I hit a milestone of, say, 50 photos, I could exhibit the work once lockdown is finished. A sort of celebration that we made it out the other side. Then I'll put them away in my archives and possibly dig them back up in ten years when, maybe, we might want to look back."

You can follow the progress of 'Brum on Brum' on Facebook and Instagram. Tam is always looking for more people to take part, and a place to exhibit this body of work.

"We've come together as a family. We've eaten together. Socialised together.
We'll be a closer family when it's over".
— M.Asif, hardware store owner  


"Hope." says photographer Tam Bernard, before a long a pull on his cigarette. "And community". For the last three weeks Tam has been photographing and speaking to the people of Birmingham, where they work and where they live. Standing at the end of driveways, in shop doorways, always two metres apart. His project, Brum on Brum, documents a locked down Birmingham and the overriding sense he got from his subjects can be summed up in those two words. Hope. Community.

"At one point I caught myself eating a sandwich with a knife and fork.
I think I was losing my mind."
— Liz Mason, tattoo artist  


Tam observed lockdown to the letter, surrounded as he is by at risk people, emerging only to shop for food. "It didn't bother me, missing out on photographing the deserted city before lockdown was relaxed. I get why photographers did it and why they felt it needed showing. But for me, Birmingham's never been about the physical city. It is and always will be, about the people. The story, for me, wasn't about the empty streets, it was about the full homes. It wasn't about closed shops, it was about the shops that remained open."

"I've had regulars come in who have lost their livelihoods. Some don't know where to go from here."
— Charlotte Hanlon, health store manager (and colleague, Steph)  


It's the second such project for Tam who, five years ago, launched Brum on Brum to record people's thoughts on the rapidly changing face of our city. "Nine times out of ten they'd tell me to f*** off, you know? I was in the city centre, they were dashing off to work and it was, at times, like pulling teeth. People were too busy to take part and I understood that. This time though, during lockdown, people wanted to be a part of it. Almost everyone said yes." Why? "I don't know. Maybe they understood that this is a period in our lives that needs documenting. That it's a moment in time."

"I hope we'll come back from this stronger than ever, with more respect for one another."
— Krishnan Rajput, shop proprietor


Bearwood-based Tam took his photos before asking the subjects to complete a brief questionnaire. Both the photos and the responses going up, soon, on his Instagram page: 'The last question I asked every participant was always 'How do you think the city will come out of this?' "It was amazing," explains Tam, "which one word was the most used. I heard it over and over. Together. We'll come out of this together. I hope we do because that's a hell of a positive to take from a sh*tty situation."  


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