The Covid-19 pandemic, and what is thought of as the new norm, certainly has affected almost every aspect of our daily life. As a photography and art teacher in Yuba county I have see first hand the effect it has had on students. Some positive and some not so positive. Regardless how each student and each family cope with the current situation I think we can all agree that this is time in our lives like none other. My goal was to have students take note of this and document daily life. For three weeks students had to submit ten edited black and white images of their daily routine. It ranged from those who rarely left the house to those that did short vacation, day trips and unfortunately a funeral. Each shared their experience and selected photos in class. In the end they chose their best five and wrote a short artist statement on the experience.
Below is part of one such statement as seen through the eyes of a high school student, Cynthia Salazar.
The Covid-19 pandemic is not only a health crisis but also a social and economic crisis. The pandemic has led to a dramatic loss of people worldwide and gives an unpredicted challenge to public health, food systems, and the world of work. Without the ability to earn an income during lockdowns, many are unable to feed themselves and their families. From school closures to devastated industries and must-have items including a small piece of cloth on your face. The pandemic took a major toll on people’s mental health in 2020. One study published in August by the CDC found that levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts skyrocketed amid the pandemic. As you can see, there’s a lot going on in the world right now, and I have been challenged to document my experience.
Photography has always been an important part of history because they provide a visual example of what was going on and what it looked like during those exact moments. I am fortunate enough to be able to document my experience being a photojournalist for the first time ever. That being said, being a photojournalist had its ups and downs. It was very fun because I got to explore with my style and I had creative freedom. I loved coming up with new ideas and executing them to represent our current crisis. Some of my pictures were taken in public which was a great excuse to get out of the house once in a while. As time went on I struggled coming up with new creative ideas for pictures, that was one of my biggest obstacles, that I hadn’t already done. Although I had many challenges during these 3 weeks I knew that it would be exciting to look back on these images and remember what it was like again.
... My fourth picture was taken at Walmart in the aisle where food is supposed to go. As you can tell in the picture the whole aisle didn’t have at least one food item on them. What caught my attention was the fact that the whole aisle was empty, not just a row. My main thought when I saw the empty aisle was remembering the time period when all the shelves filled with food and toilet paper were completely empty. For this photo, I didn’t use any techniques. I just angled the camera to the left to capture as much as I could of the shelf....I hope that when these photos are looked back at, it brings extra insight into how our lives were during Covid-19.