When the Coronavirus news began taking over the world and one country after the other went into lockdown I became more and more paralysed. As my inbox filled up with cancelled shoots and refund requests, my anxiety creeped in. Slowly and silently. I froze. I read of people dying. I am far away from my family. I suddenly felt the weight of being and living alone. I saw people online offering their gifts and talents to the world and I felt useless, empty and uninspired.
As a photographer I could not bare the thought of not photographing people for the next three (?) months. It almost physically hurts imagining that.
Talking to my photography friends they were all feeling the same way. It’s funny to have a job you can’t imagine not doing. I feel so lucky.
Three weeks ago my client Martina was supposed to come to England for her photoshoot. Then Italy went into lockdown. So she asked me if we could shoot online instead? I thought of the virtual shoot Peter Lindbergh did with Jacinda Ardern last year. And my brain started thinking in colour again.
Of course. Why not shoot anyway?
My friend Aga asked me why I am doing this.
I am not sure I have one simple answer. I suppose there are a few layers to it. The topic of loneliness and belonging has always been a red thread running through my life. Being born an immigrant I never felt either or. Never felt really at home anywhere. I’ve always felt ‘alone together’ in rooms with other people, in countries and places I’ve lived, in communities I was a part of. With others – but on the fringes.
Now, along with all the world I find myself again, alone but together. Disconnected but connected.
The distance we are experiencing now is mostly physical, yet there are many for whom the physical distance now adds even more weight to their inner, very real loneliness.
For some, life has not changed that drastically. For others, everything is different. Despite everyone’s circumstances, I feel like this pandemic is a great equaliser: life has slowed down for all of us. It fascinates me that we are globally going through this at the same time and I am curious how people live right now and how they are feeling.
There is also the simple fact that I love photography and I refuse to live without it. I love meeting people and hearing the story of what moves them. What scares them and what excites them. Photography for me is a door. This project is, at the end of the day, a door.
I am lucky when people let me in – be it for 5 minutes or an hour – and a connection is born.
In this time we feel both, light and dark very strongly. As uncertain, surreal and scary this might be we cannot deny the positives. So I asked everyone I get to photograph two questions: if they are scared of anything right now and where they find joy in this time.
Thank you to each and everyone of the beautiful souls that volunteered for this.
Enjoy part 1. There are a few more parts to come.
Giorgia 23, Aarhus, Denmark
I’m stuck in my little flat in Aarhus, Denmark, but my heart is in Italy, my home country. I’m doing my master’s in Journalism at Aarhus University and I live with one roommate from the US. 25 days inside – with some allowed fresh-air moments- made me realise that I can survive on my own, but that I also really miss spontaneous hugs and get togethers – lifeblood for extroverts like me.Concerts and travels are almost a distant memory, but I try not to think too much ahead and live day by day. During these strange time, I find joy in baking, keeping contact with my loved ones and playing the ukulele a lot – time for writing new songs!
Ananya 24, New Dheli, India
I live alone and I am currently doing isolation alone as well. I don’t think I have any fears. I have a tattoo on my arm, it says, ‘Nirbhau Nirvair’ which means ‘ no fear, no hatred’
No fear is something I believe I was born with & no hatred is something I have to practice all my life.
It’s Spring here in India but we are on full lock down as well. I love sitting in my balcony sipping tea every morning, video calling friends and family that I can’t be in touch with regularly and just feeling grateful for having a shelter to live under in these tough times.
Manoucheka 33, Québec, Canada
I’m 33 years old and I live in the province of Quebec, Canada. I currently live with my mother and we are very worried about Covid-19. Being an event and family photographer, all my contracts have been canceled because of the social distance measures ordered by the government. I also have to deal with postponed weddings, which makes me a little sad. It’s hard financially but I try to work on my business and stay positive by sharing images of happiness. In French, we say Tout va bien aller!
Marco 34, Darmstadt, Germany
Marco is a spoken word artist and decided to reply in a poem:
Diese ungehobelte „Wer bin ich“ Frage / ist ohnehin schon nervig genug / und verstärkt sich dieser Tage / wenn ich nicht mehr machen kann / was ich tu /
und hinter dem Anschein von Perfektem / versteckend / den eigenen Anspruch aufbausch’ /
maskierte Angst / vermisst die Distanz / und gestern ist klitschig / und morgen ein durchlässig löchriges Netz / vielleicht hab ich Angst / dass ich das gar nicht kann / dieses Geworfenen-Sein in ein leeres papierweißes Jetzt /
Nicolò 27, Brighton, UK
I live with two friends, one of which is also my colleague. Does this mean I’m also living in the office during the week then? Probably yes.
My biggest fear right now is loneliness or, better said, the feeling of being alone. That cold breeze filling your heart and freezing the entire system. I’ve struggled with anxiety linked to not leaving the house once before and I fear this could come back at some point.
In order to fight that fear, I have been trying to create and respect a sort of daily routine to trick my mind into thinking life hasn’t temporarily paused, even though I am only walking to the living room to attend meetings really. In this situation I therefore find joy in achieving small goals such as getting dressed and ready, working out or just having a virtual aperitif with my friends. I am slowly redefining the way I find joy.
Tea 31, Nova Gorica, Slovenia
I am currently living and spending lockdown time with my mum and dad in their house, located in a small village surrounded by vineyards and peach fields.
What scares me is not knowing how long this worldwide pandemic will last and the long term consequences on humankind. Also the fear of being trapped and being unable to plan absolutely anything for the forseeable future. On the other hand I feel the calmest I have felt in ages as there’s no pressure, expectations and need of hitting targets at work and life in general.
I finally have time and space to realise all the repressed creative ideas I had wondering around my mind for ages. We get to spend lots of time outdoors because we live on a farm and have no neighbours.
Celine 37, Paris, France
I am born and raised in Paris. I live all by myself (hear it in Celine Dion’s voice) ! The fears that are running in my head right now are revolving around money mainly but I’m trying to keep a positive mindset and keep on feeding my soul by creating photos and self portraits at home.
What brings me joy is the morning light in my living room, baking, cooking and sharing food with the neighbours, online meditation and prayers with my friends – I am also learning new skills like embroidery and drawing.
Ricardo 20, Deland, Florida
I’m living with my dad as I had to leave Uni because of the Coronavirus pandemic. My fear right now is not being able to complete or make progress on what I’ve been working towards in my life, there’s so much I want to do but it feels like life has been put on hold. I’ve been finding joy in playing and studying bass guitar as much as possible and re-discovering old hobbies like playing with a yo-yo and a kendama.
I’m also spending time with my father who always is working hard for everyone and being with him helps me really understand how to be better person in everything I do.
My nonna Ignazia 80, Paternò, Sicily
My Grandma is kind of blissfully unaware of what is really going on in the world. I guess she is just happy to have made it to 80 and that she can eat her steak once a week.
When I explained this project to her and that I wanted to portrait her, she just said: “Can you photograph me while I knit?”
Nonna does not use any video apps other than Whatsapp so I had to photograph my phone.