Location: Portland, OR, United States
This project began during a period of unwanted and unexpected isolation, brought on by the COVID-19 Pandemic. With all photographic work at a sudden standstill, we began with self-portraits as a way to wrestle with our own anxiety and preserve an unprecedented time in history. As photographers that is how we naturally respond to things. We photograph them, if only to have a record of their existence.
We then moved outward, contacting friends, family, neighbors, using Craigslist. We sought all ages, economic groups, races, genders, and sexual orientations. For the pandemic became a strangely unifying experience, regardless of who you were or what you believed, we were all isolated together. The project revealed a shared humanity, as we explored conditions of aloneness as proof of belonging.
Inspired by Edward Hopper, the narratives appear as if stills for a movie or tableaux in a play. Yet, though crafted, our work is informed by our photojournalistic roots and is documentary at its core. Each image is a retelling of a person's story inspired by how they were feeling, how life had changed and what they were doing to cope (or not cope) during the COVID lockdown. To the viewer it is as if you have happened upon a scene, a series of uneasy moments marked by a vague feeling that something is not quite right.
During the time while our world was closed, we documented rage, laughter, tears, joy, and fear, sometimes all in a single session. The challenge was to create intimacy from a distance, which is a question we all will be asking for years to come. So we pushed on, looking for connection. As photographers we crave it, it is the reason why we do what we do. To see how people live, see how they survive and to help them feel seen and heard. Even when, especially when, we are in isolation.