Canon photographers capture the highs and lows of 2020

Canon’s ‘See How We Feel’ series makes a poignant record of the most difficult year in a generation 

Thursday 10 December 2020 16:48 GMT
Carer Lucy Skidmore decided to stay on site at a care home in Princes Risoborough with six colleagues to reduce the risk of bringing Covid-19 into the home. Here she spends time with her 100-year-old great-grandmother and resident Joan Loosley
Carer Lucy Skidmore decided to stay on site at a care home in Princes Risoborough with six colleagues to reduce the risk of bringing Covid-19 into the home. Here she spends time with her 100-year-old great-grandmother and resident Joan Loosley (© Eddie Keogh)

Through the lens of 19 world-leading photographers including award-winning commercial and wildlife photographer Clement Kiragu, Paris-based portrait photographer Guia Besana, and two-time Pulitzer winning photojournalist Muhammed Muheisen, we see a multitude of emotions. 

From the resilience in the face of adversity shown by the bride and groom at their micro-wedding (captured by Sanjay Jogia), to the feeling of contemplative solitude while sitting in front of the historical site of Mada’in Saleh during these challenging times (captured by Tasneem Alsultan), and the love shown by a carer who lived onsite to lessen the chances of bringing the virus into the care home (captured by Eddie Keogh) – against a difficult and challenging backdrop, the sense of humanity and hope these images depict is clear.

Susie Donaldson, ITCG European Marketing Director for Canon EMEA said: “When words fail us, there is no better way to express our emotions than through the power of imagery. Canon’s fantastic group of ambassadors have perfectly captured the highs and lows we’ve collectively experienced during 2020 through this selection of powerful images.”

A love of the Arctic led Norwegian marine biologist and photographer Audun to blaze a trail that combined his passions (© Audun Rikardsen)

GRATITUDE – “I feel a deep sense of gratitude to have been able to follow the ‘whale feast’ for 10 years, as both a photographer and a scientist, during the polar night in the fjords of Northern Norway where the whales feed on overwintering herring,” says Audun.  

Fascinated by the natural world, photographer Bruno holds a master’s degree in biology. He specialises in mountain ecosystems and endangered wildlife and uses his work to explore the relationship between humans and nature and to highlight the importance of conservation (© Bruno D’Amicis)

HOPE – “On a spring afternoon, an Apennine brown bear emerges from its winter den located on a rocky cliff. The appearance of this rare animal after the lockdown months was a sign of hope – for me as a photographer working to document this species, but also as a subtle reminder of the indifference of nature towards the human affairs.”

Clement is an award-winning commercial and wildlife photographer based in Nairobi, Kenya. His work has been published around the world. In 2017, he won the grand prize in Africa’s Photographer of the Year competition. Clement also runs private guided safaris in Africa (© Clement Kiragu)

HOPE – “For many years, the great migration has been affected by many factors, such as interruption at the crossing points because of tourists. We haven’t experienced a migration as large as this for a number of years,” comments Clement. “This year, the wildebeests came in their thousands and crossed uninterrupted for over three hours at a time. For me, this gives me hope that the spectacle of nature will always find a way to move forward even without us.”

Czech-born, London-based Eliska is an award-winning visual artist and art director, who uses the medium of photography and film. Her bold, colourful and unique style explores themes such as consumerism, beauty and environmental activism (© Eliska Sky)

CONNECTION – “Inspired by the current global pandemic, this image of a connected mask represents how we are all in this challenging situation together.”

Spontaneity and creativity combine in the work of this wedding photographer based in Tuscany, Italy. His awards include the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers’ (ISPWP) Photographer of the Year 2019 and This is Reportage Photographer of the Year 2019 ( © Fabio Mirulla)

OPTIMISTIC – “This summer, when Covid-19 gave us a little truce, I had the opportunity to witness the amazing show of NEOWISE comet. It is a once-in-a-lifetime sight and it will pass again in around 6000 years,” says Fabio. “Everything shall pass, both Covid-19 and the comet, and I want to think of it as a lesson of optimism and hope, to look always to the silver lining even during challenging times.”

Guia is an Italian-born, Paris-based portrait photographer whose work often focuses on women’s issues and the theme of identity (© Guia Besana)

FREEDOM – “Leg It! is a series of self-portraits I captured during Summer 2020 in Greece to illustrate that insistent urge to escape the physical confinement to find freedom,” explains Guia after experiencing challenging lockdown restrictions in Spain. “I wandered around familiar locations on the island of Andros transforming them into metaphors of my conflicting feelings after a long, unnatural isolation.” 

Jerome has covered some of the most significant news stories of the past 20 years, filing images from conflict zones such as Kosovo, Syria and the Ukraine (© Jerome Sessini)

UNCERTAINTY – “I captured this image of the bordering tunnel between the Haut-Rhin and the Vosges on my way back from Mulhouse during lockdown. The Haut-Rhin and the city of Mulhouse are two of the most impacted areas of France affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Portuguese travel photographer Joel Santos has a knack for capturing compelling and unforgettable imagery, and his adventurous nature also means he eagerly embraces new technology (© Joel Santos)

PEACEFUL – “I shot this image in South Sudan (Feb 2020), portraying Mundari’s children socialising while engulfed by burning cattle dung haze and leaning against a mighty long horned cow, the prime source of this nomadic tribe’s sustenance. This photo, much like the current pandemic situation, is an antagonistic reminder that peace and equilibrium are globally fragile states and reinforces the notion that nothing should be taken for granted.

Multi Red Bull Illume Award winning photographer, Lorenz, based in Freising, Germany, specialises in images of action sports combined with landscape and architectural photography (© Lorenz Holder)

EMPTY – “I shot this image of my girlfriend from my balcony during the first lockdown – the streets were completely empty. I flipped the final image 180 degrees to change the perspective and to create a strange look – it matches many of our feelings during this challenging time.”

Maxime is a French wildlife photographer who travels the world to help organisations working in nature conservation. He is also a biologist and assists with scientific studies in the field (© Maxime Aliaga)

PATIENCE – “I feel like this leopard represents how many have felt this year. Patiently waiting for social lives and all travel possibilities to resume. For me, that means resuming the work I do in visually documenting the natural world.”

Born and raised in Belgium, Michel was fascinated by the natural world from an early age and became a professional photographer in 2016. He won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Rising Star Portfolio Award in both 2014 and 2018 (© Michel d’Oultremont)

CONTAINMENT – “When we talk about wildlife photography there is often a vision of the great African or polar spaces but when we can’t travel, as has been the case for much of 2020, this requires a change in perspective,” says Michel. “This image was taken five metres from my front door and is a powerful reminder to all those who love nature and photographing it, that you just have to open your eyes as to what is on your doorstep.”

Born in Jerusalem, Muhammed is a two-time Pulitzer winning photojournalist and founder of the Everyday Refugees Foundation. He has been documenting the world’s refugee crisis for over a decade under the theme ‘smile in the middle of the rubble’ (Muhammed Muheisen)

HOPE – “Even amid these challenging times, life never stops. Introducing baby Hussein. In this picture he is 26 days old, resting under a mosquito net inside his family's shelter in a camp in Athens, Greece,” says Muhammed. “Hussein was born on 1 May, 2020 in the peak of the pandemic. According to his mother Daleen, her baby is the best thing that has happened to her family. Just like any other mother, her worries amid these challenging times have been replaced with love the moment she carried him in her arms.”

A German/Russian documentary photographer, currently based in Moscow, Nanna’s work deals with isolation and how people react to, and interact with, their environments. She received The Ian Parry Scholarship Sunday Times Award for Achievement in 2019 (© Nanna Heitman)

HOPE – “As the Covid-19 pandemic reached Russia, including hospital 52 in Moscow, the whole hospital was turned into a red zone, except the maternity unit. I captured this image of a mother and child meeting for the first time following a complicated caesarean surgery. It was a beautifully touching moment and gave me positivity after seeing hundreds of patients suffering as a result of coronavirus.”

Moscow based photojournalist Pavel covers a wide range of social issues in Russia for numerous high profile international publications, including the International New York Times and Der Spiegel (© Pavel Volkov)

UNCERTAINTY – “I captured this image in October in the town of Stepanakert – the capital of a breakaway republic of Artsakh during the escalation of military conflict. This year, thousands of individuals around the world have felt anxious amidst uncertainty – some due to the global pandemic and others from the daily threat of military conflicts and wars.”

Based in the Netherlands, Pie uses his work to examine the intricate relationship between humans, animals and the natural world, to find out why we seem increasingly disconnected from each other and from our natural environment (© Pie Aerts)

GRANDNESS – “With the absence of the usual herds of tourists, I was able to capture the lake-bed migration in Amboseli in full effect and magically, a historic elephant baby boom. This image of an elephant family on a quest for water at the end of the dry season, provided reflection on the true grandness of Mother Nature with the complete absence of human intervention.”

In November 2020, more than 50 new ambassadors joined the programme – the biggest expansion in the initiative’s 12-year history – taking the total number of Canon ambassadors to over 100.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in