When my self-isolation started in mid-March, I began taking remote portraits of people via video chat from my home in Mexico City. I photographed people I know and complete strangers in various parts of the world, from Washington DC to Belgium to Wuhan, China. I tried to capture what this particular brand of isolation feels like, and how different people approach and react to it.
Some people are alone, some with partners or families, some with pets. Some are working from home, some are not working at all. Some have made peace with the situation, some are grappling with anxiety.
Overall, I noticed that usually, both the subject and I feel better after a conversation about what life is like where we are and how we are coping with it. From a photographic perspective, I’ve learned that I do not need to be physically in a room with somebody to make a portrait of them. In fact, it was remarkably natural to direct and photograph people through my laptop’s camera and microphone. Ultimately, while the images show very clear separation and distance between photographer and subject, the portraits are still the result of connection (both human and digital), which continues to be a crucial aspect of life, despite unusual circumstances.
Victoria SmallwoodAge 28
Victoria is an attorney who began working from home voluntarily on 12 March. As of 15 March, her office in midtown Manhattan had not put mandatory work-from-home practices into place.
Miles FortuneAge 28
Miles is a freelance photographer and has experienced a pause in assignments, and cannot work from home.
Elva MitsoglouAge 40
Elva experienced a company mandate to work from home for two days, after which her office had planned to close for one full week and reassess.
Roxie XieAge 27
Roxie, a graduate student, left New York to celebrate Lunar New Year with her family in Wuhan. Since then, the city has gone under quarantine, and she has been unable to return. Because of this, her work and student visas have been suspended.
Linda NolletteAge 56
Linda worked her last shift at Starbucks on Monday 16 March and is quarantined at home, with pay and medical benefits, because she has a compromised immune system. This paid leave will continue until 30 March, at which point she can use sick days, then apply for medical leave. If she is not granted medical leave, she will lose her health benefits.
Elva SaldivarAge 67
Because of her age, Saldivar feels she is at high risk for getting sick, and worries about infecting other people as well. Her husband does some grocery shopping, and she plans on using a grocery delivery service soon. Her daughter lives in Mexico City. An hour after this portrait, the White House announced that the border between Mexico and the US would close to all non-essential travel.
Ariel PlotnickAge 26 DC
Ariel, an audio producer, has been working from home as of Thursday 12 March. Plotnick anticipates working from home until at least mid-April. She has quickly adapted to working from home, but doesn’t feel mentally prepared for the possibility of an indefinite lockdown.
Eva VerbeeckAge 27
Verbeeck moved from the US to Belgium on Monday 9 March, and began staying at home and social distancing on Thursday 12 March. In the mornings, she picks and delivers groceries for elderly people in her community.
Josh Ruben and Lauren SickAges 36 and 35
Josh and Lauren are practicing social distancing at home in Los Angeles. Sick has had four jobs cancelled so far. Ruben just wrapped a feature film shoot in upstate New York a few days before Los Angeles began implementing social distancing measures.
Rachael SeatvetAge 25
Rachel, a graphic designer, has been working from home but her main task at work, creating a large catalogue for the company she works for, has been affected by Covid-19. As a US citizen, she wonders if Canada’s universal healthcare benefits would apply to her if she were to get sick.
Ciara CrockerAge 28assachusetts
Ciara quit her full time job at the end of February to begin freelancing, and has expressed that promising work leads have since gone quiet.
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