• Martin Kristiansen

Dog Walking 3. The End?

Images from a daily dog walk through the Johannesburg suburb of Kensington
Week 9

Covid 19. I never saw that coming, the lockdown I mean. But then again I suppose I did on one level. I saw it coming and actually made plans ages ago but one part of my mind remained firmly in denial so my plans were sort of disjointed. One part of my mind decided running out of coffee would be bad so I bought many kilograms from my favourite roaster. Green Bean Coffee in case you were wondering.

I never thought I would be unable to enjoy my morning dog walk. We made sure we had enough food, enough pet food, cleaning material, reading material, Netfilx subscription and, as I said, coffee. All sorted. I even bought a dart board. Then a few days before lockdown the announcement was made, no dog walking. That took me by surprise!

Very early morning image of a suburban street scene
Week 10

The nights had been getting longer and because our dog walks generally start between 05:00 and 05:30 we were doing a lot of walking in the dark. I actually really enjoy it. It's very quiet and feels mysterious. The dogs don't seem to care one way or another. The photography gets challenging as cameras, even modern Sony mirrorless models, struggle a bit in the near dark. I was enjoying the challenge and was always excited to see what I had captured on the morning walk.

Week 11

As we walked through the morning quiet and dark we talked more and more frequently about the strange virus that had so badly affected China and then Italy. I had a very bad feeling about it and started to make plans to survive financially. I'm a self-employed photographer and need to think ahead as my industry is very unstable and competitive. My partner is also self-employed and we knew that a shut down would really hurt us. The dogs of course were much more interested in sniffing out cats and finding interesting things to pee on.

Week 12

The last few walks through the streets were very strange. People we see regularly on the walks stopped to wish us well over the next few weeks. I wonder when we will see them again? Or if we will ever see them again? Suddenly we were not taking things for granted. We walked longer and slower etching the details into our minds, looking at little things we knew we wouldn't see for some time. And then it was over. No more dog walks. I had taken my last photo and we were in lockdown. The plan this year was to take photos on every walk and once the year was over to make a little self published book and perhaps have a modest exhibition. Fifty two images chosen to represent the 52 weeks of the year. Cool plan.

Photograph of Kensington Johannesburg
Week 13

This image above, Week 13, was taken from my back yard. We decided not to forgo our morning dog walk. We are reduced to walking the dogs around our own property which is draped rather inconveniently on one of the many ridges in Kensington. Its not the same of course and it is very repetitive but I'm not ungrateful. I know we are super fortunate to live in a place that affords the opportunity to at least do a short walk on the property. I can take photos from above our house looking east as the sun comes up. Initially the dogs were a bit confused by it all but dogs are cheerful creatures and have adjusted well.

I'm still at the stage of looking down onto the streets where we used to walk and wondering when I will be able to do so again.

Best wishes to you all through this tough period. May you all be happy, safe and free from suffering.


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