2020: A Year in Review

2020 draws to a close, and what an emotionally driven 12 months it has been, from what was meant to be an exciting year ahead turned out to be one of the most eventful years of our lives.

It has, however, despite the reality of the fact we’ve all come together to support one another, been an emotional time for all of us as we’ve all lost loved ones not just to COVID, but from health problems that were or weren’t COVID-related.

This year has been overwhelming to say the least, as tensions have run high, tempers have become frayed, and the frightening prospect of COVID cases rising each day could see us in a third national lockdown in the first few weeks of 2021, which is pointless as Tier 4 means a large majority of us are already in lockdown because of the Stay at Home Order, including the fact all non-essential businesses have been forced to shut.

I can assure you that if we go into a third national lockdown the economy will be unable to recover because the last 9 months of pillar-pushing, confusion and consistent scaremongering from the government has seen unemployment rates skyrocket, a vast majority of people are becoming self-employed and mental health and suicide rates are likely to skyrocket if the government continues to push their ‘what-they-think-they-know-best’ agenda.

I mean, take a look at our government and then New Zealand’s government, our government under the Prime Minister, and the Health Secretary, have made a shambles of the entire pandemic, meanwhile, New Zealand’s Prime Minister has managed to lead New Zealand back to COVID-free normality for a second time as they followed everything correctly, and in recent weeks, New Zealand and Australia have been able to continue life as normal, so if they can achieve this feat twice and continue life as normal, then why is our government failing to follow the best example New Zealand’s Prime Minister has made and shown?

This is a different type of year in review because I’ve opened up a lot more in recent months about the pandemic and how it’s affected me and my family, including all of us as a whole, and I’ve realised how much this year has been on all of us, because it’s given all of us time to re-assess things, to reflect on things we otherwise wouldn’t have initially reflected on, and it’s made all of us realise that we all need to be there for one another and to cherish the time we all have as every day could be our last.

The last week of April was a quiet and eventful week because prior to the 10 year anniversary of my granddad passing away on the 17th May 2010, my uncle passed away at 5:00am on the 26th April, and I felt numb but have coped a lot better because I’ve been open about how his passing made me feel, but the fact we’ve all lost someone close this year is evident to me that I’m forever grateful for the time I spend with my family, including the time I spend keeping in contact with friends while also reaching out to all of you, and that I’m forever grateful for.

Despite the bad that has come out of this year, I can tell you the positive news that has come from this year.

Throughout 2020, I’ve been hard at work on getting my photography work published, and I’m pleased to tell you I achieved my goal of 30 exhibitions following being chosen for Photographer of the Year by GuruShots last year, and have achieved this feat for a second time after being chosen for the Photographer of the Year and I couldn’t wait to share this positive news with you.

I’ve also surpassed 30 exhibitions as the exhibition run stands at 40, but could go up more as we venture into and throughout 2021, and I’m aiming for 50-60 exhibitions for next year.

I’ve also achieved another feat this year as my work has been featured online on websites, such as Amateur Photographer Magazine, PetaPixel, Shutterbug, Digital Photographer Magazine, Photography Week Magazine, BudgetTravels.com, PhotoPlus Magazine, Dodho Online Magazine, FStoppers, The Phoblographer, Digital Camera Magazine, Digital Camera World & 121Clicks.

Despite an awful rollercoaster of an emotional year, it’s been a good year for achieving and pushing ourselves to achieve the best in everything, but this year’s been a genuine eye-opener for us all.

We’ve started to prioritise what is more important and what is less important.

I’ll always prioritise my family and friends and all of you over everything else, the same goes for the passion I have for photography, as I intend to work harder to achieve the dream career I want while also putting family, friends and all of you first, as all of you mean everything to me and that’s why I’ll be making a point of getting some content published throughout 2021 so that next year can help me spread positivity while the pandemic continues.

For one last time, I’ll take a full look-back at the articles/photo moments/photo-sets/official reviews/photography work I’ve published throughout 2020.

January 2020

1.1.2020 – 2020 kicked off to a perfect start as we all saw in the New Year and new decade with fireworks and music, and my start to the decade got off to a perfect start after learning the news from GuruShots that 4 out of the 6 photos of Harvey Lee I produced on Halloween night was chosen to be digitally exhibited at the Espaço Espelho D’Agua Gallery in Lisbon from the 21st February to the 23rd February 2020.

18.1.2020 – Mother Nature’s path into the unknown was full of good surprises!

22.1.2020 – Despite the big freeze, nature was at her barest!

26.1.2020 – Kobe Bryant will always forever be a true basketball legend who will be remembered for leaving footprints on our hearts.

29.1.2020 – Amidst the hustle and bustle, the busy atmosphere made Victoria quintessentially a place to thrive.

31.1.2020 – Every branch is an avenue of inspiration! Nova Victoria is a sight to behold!

February 2020

1.2.2020 – February got off to a quiet start considering I’ve been working some of the time while using the free time I have off work to produce my photography work which is a lovely feeling.

8.2.2020 – It was a beautiful day!

The sun shone; the weather was just right, and the feels of Winter slowly fading made the beautiful sunny weather feel like it was Spring.

13.2.2020 – As the sun-set over Orpington, nature’s path slowly cleared!

19.2.2020 – There’s never a dull moment when you’re amid mass rainfall, and London Victoria is busy.

25.2.2020 – There was a sombre atmosphere, forming raindrops from the sky.

March 2020

1.3.2020 – The website underwent a major overhaul in design with the Tortuga theme after I came across the theme through WordPress as the website needed a new look after a whole year.

2.3.2020 – After the hotly anticipated record, Stupid Love, was released worldwide, the eleven-time Grammy Award winner, Lady Gaga, announced her new album, Chromatica, would be released on the 10th April, marking four years since the release of Joanne!

8.3.2020 – I wished all you wonderful women and mothers a Happy International Women’s Day as it was a time to celebrate the occasion considering all women and mothers work and have helped us all so much.

On the same day, I couldn’t help but mention it had been a calm start to the morning as it was nice to have that chilled feeling on the way to work.

11.3.2020 – Croydon basked in the early morning sun and it was nice as there’s nothing better than getting out and enjoying the weather while it lasts.

13.3.2020 – It was a bold, bright and beautiful start to the morning!

17.3.2020 – I gave my own impartial views while expressing my concerns surrounding COVID-19, as it’s become an increasingly worrying and frightening prospect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) had spread as rapidly as it has, though my question was how long will it take before a vaccine could be found?

19.3.2020 – It was a cloudy day and I noticed blossoms of pink flowers from the tree.

On the same day, I published a note that went out to all panic buyers who were intentionally stockpiling on toilet roll and other essential items that young/old people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 needed, such as those with disabilities/hidden disabilities, those with underlying health conditions, including those who have or are going through cancer treatment, to consider us who have families who are in that position, including those of us working essential jobs that mean we are unable to work from home.

22.3.2020 – It was a wonderful sunny start to the morning as the sky was beautiful and the sunny weather made the day start off beautifully.

24.3.2020 – I published an updated note to all panic buyers who continued to be inconsiderate towards the most vulnerable like us who work on the front-line in essential jobs varying on different job sectors, not to mention those who have disabilities/hidden disabilities, including those who have or are going through cancer treatment as I was furious with the panic buyers who were inconsiderate and refused to show any ounce of care for the rest of us.

On the same day, the 11-time Grammy Award-winning musician, Lady Gaga, posted a note on social media announcing the indefinite postponement of her upcoming sixth studio album, Chromatica, which was due for initial release on the 10th April, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 Global Pandemic.

27.3.2020 – The two-time Grammy Award-Winning musician, Dua Lipa, released her hotly-anticipated sophomore album, Future Nostalgia, with The Rolling Stone hailing the album in their review that she ‘crafts a Studio 54-Worthy Disco-Revival”, which, from my point of view is correct as it feels like a mixture of the old-school sound, like we’re living in the nostalgic era of Chic, where the music legend, Nile Rodgers, would play with his legendary guitar during Le Freak.

30.3.2020 – It was a haunting feeling to see the whole of Croydon looking like a ghost town.

April 2020

1.4.2020 – Things got off to a quieter start despite the news surrounding COVID-19, with the next few weeks and months set to be a test of willpower.

20.4.2020 – After two weeks away following the end of the isolation period in which I self-isolated for two weeks due to showing the symptoms of COVID-19, which I then learned shortly after that my mum showed the same symptoms, which we both managed to fully recover from while she was getting rid of her laryngitis, I published my review on the bestselling game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which consisted of the letter I included with it detailing why I was away for two weeks.

22.4.2020 – As the air pollution continues to clear, this gave nature the opportunity to branch out.

30.4.2020 – The next subject I photographed for the photography series was Oli Regan. This photo-set was produced back in February, a month prior to when the virus was upgraded from an epidemic to a global pandemic, given the rapid widespread of COVID-19 affecting the UK the following month.

May 2020

1.5.2020 – May got off to a busy start with things continuing to remain quieter due to the lockdown keeping everyone indoors.

4.5.2020 – Every 4th May is a reason to celebrate National Star Wars Day, so May the 4th Be With You!

9.5.2020 – While I was off work for the two weeks I was in self-isolation due to showing symptoms of COVID-19 along with my mum who showed the same symptoms the same night, you can imagine how frustrated and how furious I’ve been with all these flouters putting our lives at risk. What these flouters fail to understand is that, like anyone else working in an essential job, I work in an essential job where I’m required to leave the house on my contracted work days so that I can keep my family and myself financially afloat by restocking shelves, ensuring that my workplace can be stocked full of food and all the main essential resources we all need to keep ourselves alive and keep ourselves going as we walk through this global pandemic.

10.5.2020 – Following the recent postponement of Lady Gaga’s hotly-anticipated sixth studio album, Chromatica, which was originally scheduled for release on the 10th April, but was hampered due to the coronavirus pandemic which has since affected the entire world, Lady Gaga’s sixth studio album was set to be released on the 29th May, which comes just after the 9th Anniversary of her sophomore album, Born This Way, which was released on the 23rd May 2011.

12.5.2020 – Since the beginning of the global pandemic, once bustling places turned into ghost towns, football stadiums, restaurants, cafés and shops more or less completely deserted and all air travel were completely affected, with some businesses going into administration, not to mention unemployment increasing gradually every day. The new normal of going to and from work with virtually no traffic has been the norm for us all and has, to a certain degree, made the daily commutes to and from work easier, but at the same time, has changed how we see the world now compared to life before the pandemic.

20.5.2020 – While nature larks about, the plants begin to blossom! She certainly had to lark about, didn’t she? Still, on a nice, warm and sunny day, she has a right to after all. That’s why the plants are always beautiful during the Spring/Summer seasons, and more so now considering we’re fast approaching Summer and the lovely warm weather is keeping our spirits up.

22.5.2020 – It was really hot but who enjoyed the hot weather? It was beautiful and honestly, I cannot wait for the Summer season!

There’s a beauty in everything. The wonderful weather sets the mood perfectly, Summer’s fast approaching, and I cannot quite help but feel there’s a beauty in how we see everything blossom in day to day life. I’m so fascinated by the history of any of the places I previously visited, including the history of Croydon’s buildings, how they came about and why they were built.

30.5.2020 – After four years away, Lady Gaga returned with her sixth studio album, Chromatica!

June 2020

1.6.2020 – June kicked off on a quieter note.

However, I mentioned I would spend the next few weeks putting the book together in small leaps and bounds as I would be adding helplines and contact information to the book so that it would be a part-photography portfolio and part self-help.

I wanted to make sure the book would inspire and help everyone battling mental health throughout everyday life.

5.6.2020 – It was clear nature let her presence be known as the beautiful warm weather, and the breeze complimented her presence as the plants blossomed!

15.6.2020 – I was inspired by the TV Show, Absolutely Fabulous, when I produced a photo of the sunset sky because the weather was beautiful and because I was watching outtakes from Season 3, that’s why the photo had the inspiration I felt it would carry.

21.6.2020 – After a lot of speculation, rumours and leaked artwork on social media which surrounded a possible new sequel/remaster in the franchise following a puzzle being sent to the press, game developers and YouTubers, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time was officially announced!

22.6.2020 – Following the teaser Activision’s official Crash Bandicoot Twitter Account posted the previous day, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time was announced for release for the 2nd October!

24.6.2020 – It was such a fascinating thing to see nature branching out.

Her photosynthetic veins were visibly beautiful and colourful as she showed all of us what she’s capable of doing.

26.6.2020 – Nature’s warmth makes her a beautiful soul!

You could feel the warmth of her heart and roots blossoming during the sultry Summer spell, but it proved she is beautiful in every single way!

July 2020

1.7.2020 – July started off damp due to the wet weather, which was good as we needed it after the sultry sunny spell we had at the end of June.

3.7.2020 – Nature chose her moment to shine in the spotlight!

5.7.2020 – The Lone Hydrangea was in sight!

12.7.2020 – It was a beautiful day and a beautiful end to the sunny weekend.

22.7.2020 – The weather was wonderful, giving everyone even more of a reason to go green on such a beautiful Summer day!

23.7.2020 – Nature did this in vein knowing she was showing us what her vibrant personality would give off.

She was vein though, wouldn’t you agree?

29.7.2020 – The next subject I photographed for the series was Matt Luke Spike Taylor.

DISCLAIMER: SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES WERE FOLLOWED CLOSELY AT THE TIME OF THE PHOTOSHOOT WITH ALL THE SAFETY MEASURES IN PLACE TO PROTECT MYSELF AND MATT.

August 2020

1.8.2020 – August kicked off on a good note considering the warm weather slowly dipped following the six day heatwave we had in the lead up to the beginning of August and it was a relaxing start to the month.

3.8.2020 – Did you delve deeper into nature’s veins? I did, and it was awesome!

20.8.2020 – The next subject I photographed for the mental health photography series was Alex Maurice.

29.8.2020 – It was barely six months since she released her sophomore album, Future Nostalgia, and already the two-time Grammy Award Winner, Dua Lipa, released her first remix album with The Blessed Madonna, Club Future Nostalgia, which features a star-studded list, from the likes of the Queen of Pop, Madonna, to Jamiroquai, No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani, the legendary Missy Elliott, Mark Ronson, to BLACKPINK, and many more!

It was absolutely devastating to learn of the news that Chadwick Boseman passed away from colon cancer at 43, as he starred in the bestselling film, Black Panther, and has left behind a remarkable legacy, and he’ll never be forgotten.

September 2020

1.9.2020 – September came around so fast, and as we were fast approaching Autumn, my aim was to make up for lost time by intending to publish one of the photo-sets I produced back in July.

12.9.2020 – Two weeks after the release of Dua Lipa & The Blessed Madonna’s Remix Album, Club Future Nostalgia, the complete release of Club Future Nostalgia carried an additional 17 tracks with a few remixes that were previously unheard in The Blessed Madonna’s DJ Mix of Dua Lipa’s Club Future Nostalgia.

16.9.2020 – With iOS 14 finally released to the masses, the new software update brings about a huge number of new features, including some familiar features that will help you to gain more control on the apps you download and the permissions you grant to certain apps.

As we headed towards the Autumn season, nature stretched out the last of her photosynthetic veins for the Summer season as it neared the end.

30.9.2020 – It was last October since I first photographed Shannon for the series as I photographed her last year when we both met up at Funhouse after doing a catch-up baring in mind I was working away and wasn’t able to go out for nights out as much during August & September following Pridefest and other celebrations a year ago, and it was only New Year’s Eve 2019/New Year’s Day 2020 when we last met up to celebrate ringing in 2020 before COVID changed everything.

October 2020

1.10.2020 – October kicked off with the weeks that would follow being busier than usual, though I mentioned I would be publishing less frequently on here to focus more of my free time on my family.

2.10.2020 – After 22 long awaited years, the direct sequel to the bestselling Crash Bandicoot franchise, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, was finally released!

31.10.2020 – The next subject I photographed for the photography series was Ackash Potiwal.

November 2020

1.11.2020 – November kicked off on a busy note and was set to be a challenging month ahead considering the second lockdown would come into full force a few days later.

8.11.2020 – Nighttime can be a beautiful time of each day, as the bright lights compensate the landscape and lay the pathway for every journey to unknown places in the big city.

9.11.2020 – Nature sent us all a kiss from a rose!

26.11.2020 – The next subject I photographed for the photography series was Mylo Adams-Özbal.

28.11.2020 – We all get lost in the fog at some point and it’s okay to feel unhappy, it’s natural to be lost in the moment of everything going on in the world, but this moment of losing yourself in the fog gives you an insight of how the world is now, and how we can all walk through it together.

Mentally, we all feel lost because of the pandemic as we miss each other, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Never give up! We’re all in this together!

29.11.2020 – We all love a bit of festive glamour to get the Christmas Season underway!

Who doesn’t?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

30.11.2020 – The next subject I photographed for this series was Aaron Bent.

It was five years since I last met Aaron as we both studied at Croydon College, and to meet up with him prior to the second lockdown was an emotional welcome with open arms considering we hadn’t met up for such a long time and it was a true blessing to meet up with him after so much time passed as we had so much to catch up on, especially with everything currently going on with the coronavirus pandemic, though so much has changed in five years and it was so refreshing to catch up.

December 2020

1.12.2020 – The website got the festive makeover it needed to celebrate the Christmas season getting underway, and as 2020 closes its doors for the last time, I mentioned I would be making a point of getting the last photo-set for the year published.

15.12.2020 – To finish 2020’s photo-sets for the series, the last subject I photographed for 2020 was Mannan Khan.

19.12.2020 – With the Tier 4 restrictions that would go into effect from 12:01am on the 20th December how did the pandemic change and affect our mental health?

It’s greatly affected all of us mentally due to the government’s consistent scaremongering, which saw the numbers of suicides more than tripling as a result.

This decision saw the UK Government, our Prime Minister and Health Secretary failing all of us at a time when we all needed clarity and support the most.

25.12.2020 – I took the opportunity to wish all of you a Happy Christmas!

26.12.2020 – Croydon fell silent at night and felt like a pin drop as it felt like a ghost town, which once used to be hustling and bustling.

It’s the end of the year, and it’s given me time to reflect on how 2020 has been.

2020’s been an overwhelming and emotional rollercoaster of a year.

We’ve all lost loved ones over the last twelve months, and with the pandemic contributing to the loss of our loved ones, it’s given me a reason to feel forever grateful to have all of you, including my family, by my side.

Although it’s been an overwhelming year, there has been a lot of positivity that’s come out of 2020, as we’ve all achieved a lot in twelve months, including the fact we’ve all kept in contact with one another to help the days and nights pass with ease so that we can cope with how COVID has affected all of us, both physically and mentally.

I won’t lie, this year’s been an awful year, and I know I don’t often talk about how I genuinely feel, but mentally, I underestimated how eventful this year was for all of us after losing my uncle back on the 26th April, and I’ve realised that opening up about everything has helped me to cope better as each day has come and gone, and this is why even when we’re all apart for now, we’ll always be together even when we’re miles apart, and 2020’s been a year of realisation that we’ve all acknowledged we must all cherish, value and appreciate the time we all have and I’m forever grateful to surround myself with all of you, whether it’s by phone or video call or even by text, especially with family knowing we’ll all never ever be alone.

I love you all so much, and although 2021 may see us on the long and bumpiest of roads ahead, there is hope.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and we will all get through this together!

Let’s go into 2021 determined and let’s all reach out to one another more and be there for one another now more than ever.

I love you all, and I wish you all a Happy New Year for 2021, and may 2021 be a year filled with hope, positivity, love, happiness and compassion.

Alex Smithson ❤❤❤❤❤xxxxx

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