Sinclair's Oyster Bar in Manchester during lockdown

Seen and Ginger Beard Photography: Charity Prints

We’ve teamed up with Manchester photographer and long-time Seen customer Paul Wiliams to offer photographic prints from Paul’s recent lockdown photography project with profits going to local charity and hospital, The Salford Royal Trust.

For us Mancunians, one of the most core-shakingly strange parts of the last few weeks has been witnessing our lively, boisterous city become unrecognisably quiet. The rush hour traffic on Oxford road is all but gone. The incessant beats and the chanting weekend revellers from Canal Street and the Northern Quarter have fallen silent, and there haven’t been any celebratory cheers (or groans of disappointment) from the Etihad and Old Trafford for more than six whole weeks. Like a lot of places the world over, it doesn’t really feel like the same city at all.  

For Manchester’s creatives, the answer to digesting this new, disconcerting normal is to make art. Some have been singing from their balconies, others painting rainbows on their windows and murals on their walls. For long-time Seen customer and photographer Paul Williams, the solution has been to reach for the camera and hit the streets. 

Ginger Beard Wedding photographer aka Paul Smith from Manchester takes a shot on his camera

Paul Williams in action, shooting another splendid street scene no doubt

“I’m a wedding photographer so currently my April to July weddings have been postponed,” Paul said when we caught up with him. “I’m using my time to update my website and working on personal projects including this lockdown project.” 

The lockdown project he's referring to is a new series of photographs from Paul that explores the eerily empty Mancunian streets during the lockdown. Armed with just a Leica Camera M10-P and a government-sanctioned half an hour window of daily exercise, he’s been pacing Manchester’s alleys and canalways capturing historic photographs. The results are brilliant, at times showing Manchester at its most deafeningly sombre, at others celebrating that well-known Mancunian resolve and good humour in the face of a crisis.

“There’s something really cathartic about it and it gave me a sense of joy during lockdown" - PW

“The idea for the lockdown photography project came about from my love of street photography,” Paul explained, talking about the photography genre that favours candid photos of the public in urban environments. “There’s something really cathartic about it and it gave me a sense of joy during lockdown getting out for my daily walk and shooting around the city.” 

But this photo series represents much more than just providing Paul with a creative outlet. It has an important purpose. “After seeing what’s been happening with the NHS during COVID-19 and having a lot of friends who work for the NHS,” he said, “I felt like I should help in some way.” Deciding he wanted to make a difference, Paul continued to work on and refine the project with the aim of selling it as a limited edition collection and donating the profits to local charity and hospital, the Salford Royal Trust. 

Manchester in the Lockdown by Paul Williams photograph Lockdown Project

Remember when toilet roll wasn't worth its weight in hand sanitizer?

“I had already been out shooting so I thought selling prints to support them seemed like the right thing to do,” he said. “I wanted to support the Salford Royal as it's a local hospital and I have friends who work there. It seems fitting that I’m shooting in Manchester to support a Manchester Hospital.” 

And this is where we come in. Paul is a long time client of Seen’s. He’s been coming to our Manchester Opticians for his independent eyewear fix since all the way back in 2010. He’s even shooting Seen team member Lisa’s wedding in Poland in 2021. When we saw the amazing photos and heard about the worthy cause the project was helping, we knew we had to help and we’re delighted to announce that you can now buy prints from the lockdown photography project from us right here.

About the photos

Available as 8” x 12” (A4) prints, the photos cover a range of Manchester landmarks and institutions with a mix of humour and a creative use of light. To see more of the photos and to buy prints, take a look below. To find out more about Paul Williams’ photography, head to his Ginger Beard Photography website here