Street photographer captures the ‘new normal’ as Manchester starts to reopen

Between 2017-2019, one of the UK’s best-known street photographers was joined by hundreds of amateur photographers in a unique social experiment to capture the spirit of some of the UK’s biggest cities in 24 hours.

The ‘A Day In The Life’ experiment compiled thousands of images of the people and places that made those bustling cities, including Manchester, tick – from buskers to office workers, students, skateboarders, OAPs and tourists.

But 2020 would be different.

Photo: Mark Waugh/

As the coronavirus pandemic swept across the world, the UK officially entered lockdown on 23rd March 2020. 

Many people were now working from home, furloughed from jobs or made redundant. Non-essential businesses including shops, restaurants, pubs and arts venues, were forced to close their doors to customers. Public transport was limited. 

Manchester, like other cities, had become a ghost town, as shown in these images by local photographer Lucy Smith.

Photo: Lucy Smith

Now, with lockdown measures beginning to ease, we’re starting to see life return to our streets. But what is the so-called ‘new normal’ that awaits us?

On 4th July 2020, photographer Mark Waugh took to the streets of Manchester once more to capture life as the city’s bars and restaurants began to reopen – what was known as ‘Super Saturday’.

Photo: Mark Waugh/

In contrast with the eerie photographs taken during the peak of lockdown, the images capture the lively scenes of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers welcoming customers again.

Photo: Mark Waugh/

They show shoppers on Market Street and around Afflecks, men returning to Barton Arcade’s Barber Barber for a much-needed proper haircut, and al fresco drinkers in the Northern Quarter and Canal Street.

The photographs were collected as part of Cartridge Save’s ‘A Day In The Life’ experiment, to show how the city has adjusted in line with lockdown restrictions being lifted on 4th July. 

Photo: Mark Waugh/

“The images from Saturday highlight the stark contrast between Manchester before and after lockdown,” said event organiser, Ian Cowley.

“We worked closely with Mark to ensure we captured a moment of history as pubs, bars and hairdressers reopened for the first time in more than three months.

“These images captured by Mark are a perfect example of Manchester adapting to a new way of living after months of solitude.” 


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