A Photographer Provides a Window Into the Space of Self-Isolation, Revealing Life Apart Yet Together

Life on pause.

  • Category
    Homes, People
  • Written & photographed by
    Kevin Steele
  • Above
    THIS IS JESSICA, CHRIS AND THEIR FAMILY.

This is an unprecedented time. We are all apart from each other but sharing a common experience.

My productions and work have shut down for likely months to come. I wanted to channel my creativity into a project that was meaningful—a project revealing how we live through these times and how we are feeling.

As a commercial location photographer, my work is full of color and emotion. This project brings me back to my roots documenting life. One camera. One prime lens. Black and white. No assistants. Simple.

I started photographing friends in their places of self-isolation beginning March 15. Friends referred others, and people began to message me to be subjects. I created an Instagram project page (@life.onpause) and began posting the photographs on the home page of my website.

After each shoot, I ask the subjects for a few sentences to share—not about who they are but rather how they are really feeling through all of this—and I began adding the stories to the posts. Those stories have become inspiration for others as they share common fears as well as the positive aspects of coming together. Everyone’s situation is different, but there is a common feeling through all of this.

Now in the fourth week of shooting more than 50 scenes, I’m struck at how the tenor of the photographs and stories has evolved over time. Initially there was shock, denial and anxiety amidst the uncertainty. As we’ve settled in and realized that this will be a while, there are now feelings of acceptance and positivity in our self-quarantining.

THIS IS JONILYN AND HER GIRLS.


“It’s been really tough—Trying to work full-time and homeschool my 5-year-old plus feeling lonely, not being able to see my family and my friends, and just the weight of what’s happening in the world right now. I wish there was more that I could do. I guide meditations online, and I hope that helps others during this.”

 

 

THIS IS SADE.


“I had three jobs. At noon I got a notification that one job had shut down, and by 5:00 I got a notification that my second job shut down. I am not working at all. It’s been very crazy. I’m trying my best to meditate and journal and just be. Hopefully it will be over soon.”

 

 

THIS IS ASHLEY AND HER FAMILY.


“The most challenging part of this whole thing is explaining it to our 4-year-old daughter. She gets it, and she’s sad. We talk a lot about the future, you know, because that’s what she’s clinging onto. It’s what we’re all clinging onto. We have no expectations through this process, but we do have a lot of silver linings… a real lot of them. That keeps us hopeful and keeps the joy in our lives.”

THIS IS CHERYL.


“While sheltering in place has been a bit of a financial burden, I feel it’s a privilege that I’m able to do so to protect myself and my family. So many do not have the luxury to just stay home: the health care workers at hospitals and assisted living facilities, grocery workers keeping our stores open and stocked, the farm workers in the fields harvesting our food, delivery drivers, truckers, etc. I am lucky to be stuck at home and grateful to all of those who continue to toil to keep the rest of us safe and fed.”

THIS IS LUC.


“Spend some time within yourself and to rest. It’s brought a different kind of inspiration not having anywhere to be— maybe a blessing in disguise for the creative side of things.”

THIS IS CHIHIRO AND SEBASTIAN.


“It feels surreal being trapped in here on such a nice day. There’s a strange feeling of isolation. It’s like an invisible catastrophe sweeping through the community. We try not to be too scared. This is a chance to focus on what we can do here, as a family—to spend more time with each other. We’re trying to make it positive.”

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