IN the midst of the coronavirus pandemic life has changed completely. Once a formulated routine; streets are now deserted, supplies are in demand and businesses are static.

One photographer is highlighting the importance of independent businesses; the lengths, strengths and breadths people go to keep their businesses floating above water, in difficult circumstances.

Photographing more than 52 independent businesses in and around Malton, Fiona Bielby wants to showcase the similarity in their ethos: solidarity.

“This project has been 100 per cent inspired by one special and inspiring lady that has sadly departed from our world at the end of last year: my Nanna,” said Fiona, a photographer from Amotherby.

“Nanna (Betty Knock) worked hard, once the proud owner of a corner shop in Durham.

“I believe, from what she told me, they received a pay-out for the shop when they were notified that the street and the shop were being demolished - a common thing around the pit-mines up north at the time.”

After the corner shop was demolished, Betty decided to become a seamstress; one of her proudest moments was making a gown for a woman attending a Royal Garden Party, in London.

Later in life, Betty cared for children with learning difficulties while sharing her passion for God.

“She was so full of energy and always made time for us when we visited, she’d fill our tummies with fig rolls and heads with tales of Jesus and her devotion to the church,” added Fiona.

“These are such fond memories.

“At the funeral, a black and white photo was being passed around of Nanna at her corner shop, standing with pride behind the counter.

“It got me thinking, will we have an iconic image of our era in 60 years’ time? I’m unsure, maybe we will maybe we won’t, but there is no harm in trying.”

Fiona started her photography ambition at York College in 2002, followed by a diploma at Harrogate College in new media graphics, in 2003.

After deciding to go back to her photographic roots in 2018, she left her career as a teaching assistant to focus full-time on her wedding photography business.

Fiona balances her career while discovering why she fell in-love with photography by experimenting with different textures and styles.

Already bursting with colour and inspiration, the project has understandably been shelved due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I loved where my project has taken me so far, it’s been great to meet other local business owners and chat to them about their journey and plans for the future,” explained Fiona.

“I’ve been surprised by the invisible web these people seem to have created between them, so many of them linking together organically.

“It’s inspiring to think that our community cares so much about each other, they are passionate about using local suppliers and promoting each other along the way. Together we are stronger.”