Photography projects in a world of social distance

Quarantine life continues. As self-isolation lingers, I am realizing the trajectory upon which I had planned to journey this year has taken a huge detour. Like most of us, my life is significantly different than I expected just a few months ago (though we aren’t suffering financially in a big way–just stuck at home). Because I am prone to anxiety, I have found it difficult to redeem this time. And with so many talking heads saying this is the perfect opportunity to explore new avenues, my anxiety grows when it feels like I am just surviving.

Ironically, I started Lent with an idea for growth as a photographer: “40 Days of Film: A Lenten Focus”. That was before all h e - double hockey sticks broke out. I had planned to shoot exclusively on 35m film through Easter. Putting down my digital camera and going old school seemed a good way to experiment and slow down when shooting. 

Then #shelterinplace came. I stopped shooting film and returned to the comfort of instant gratification in digital photography. Now, that doesn’t mean laziness. I have been going on photowalks and shooting daily things that capture my attention. 

Of course, I was tempted to go out and be a photojournalist (sort of) documenting the empty streets of downtown Chicago. The current lockdown is strongly discouraging of such activities, and frankly it’s been done already. What more can I add to the story of a soulless city?

Nevertheless, I am trying to explore areas of photography I have yet to try. I have done a few self portraits. That is actually an excellent activity, which makes me solve problems such as lighting, manually focusing when I am the subject, self-expression etc. It’s a good exercise.

I have also dabbled in macro photography. Sometimes I am taking photos of old cameras. Or flowers we have in the house. Or other objects. There is nothing wrong with this. Anything new is welcomed.

Yet I am starting to find myself at a point where I need to decide what photography really means to me. What subjects are important to me? What do I hope to do with it? I do realize I am missing people in my photos. Does that mean something? Maybe being socially distant is waking me up to an intrinsic need to be with people and to learn how to capture their soul in a frame. That would be an important milestone for me – I do not think I am there yet. What will that look like?

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