Featured photo by Danny Digitall.
With the Covid-19 virus among us, most of the world has come to a halt. Adjustments to our daily lives had to be made. We’re advised to stay inside, wash our hands constantly, stay six feet apart from one another, and wear protective attire in the event we must associate with others. I wanted to document how this is affecting our standard way of living and how we have to adapt to these new times. Being a Lehigh Valley Photographer, I chose to capture images on 35mm film to show what our communities are going through. One of the biggest changes our communities had to become accustomed to was the fact that everything literally shutdown. For me in Lehigh County, life came to a stand-still around the end of March as news spread of the statewide stay at home order. The photo of the slide pictured below at Muhlenberg Elementary School, where classes for the year were cancelled and most students started online schooling, illustrates the measures taken to keep children off the playground in the attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Even though it is necessary, it really strikes a cord with the kid in me. I couldn’t imagine not being able to play with my friends on my favorite swing set or slide during recess. Fast forward a few grades and seniors graduating this year had their ceremonies cancelled and their accomplishments went unwillingly uncelebrated.
Another strategy to slow the spread of the virus was the use of facial coverings. As the medical-grade N95 masks quickly flew off the shelves of local stores and the necessity for masks became paramount, people from all over banded together to sew masks for our essential workers and those in need. The photo below of my friend Ashley Reyes, who has sewn countless masks to aid the efforts of our local Mask Force Sewing Community, represents all the people who collectively sewed and donated over 20,000 masks! It really is amazing how in this time of need everyone can come together for their communities. These acts of kindness offer a glimmer of hope during these particularly uncertain times.
As days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months under quarantine, it became difficult, or even impossible, to see loved ones. For a lot of people it’s heartbreaking to not see members of your family for a day or a week, and months can feel like an eternity. This next photo depicts the way this grandmother and great-grandmother coped with not being able to be closer than six feet to their grandchildren. Without being able to hug or hold those dear to them, they powered through the tears and made the best of their time together even though they only were able to watch their grandchildren play from beyond the fence line. Still, it is not an ideal situation to have to endure. These are very emotional and difficult times we are facing. Yet we need to continue to work together by following the guidelines that are given to us. Through actions like those taken by the grandmothers in this photo, we can protect our loved ones even as we share time together at a safe distance. Photographs like this one fuel my hope that things will get better for ourselves, our loved ones, and for everyone in this world that is being affected by this pandemic.
My full collection of photographs offers images of cityscapes altered by our communities’ responses to the pandemic and residents as they care for each other during this difficult time. I hope that this collection reflects the deep commitment of Lehigh Valley communities to keeping each other safe and helping each other navigate covid-19. If you would like to see the full 30-page Zine I created, Covid-19|Six Feet, copies can be purchased using the link below.