The theme of 2020 was “doing life differently.” Our current circumstances have changed how we work, shop, socialize, and live. As I tried to sit and describe the experience of living in the year of 2020, I couldn’t sum it up in a word. My best illustration is the story of my own personal and professional growth during this time.
I am an assignment photographer by trade, tasked with the goal of fulfilling the vision of others. However, “doing life differently” this year meant slowing down, both personally and workload-wise. I’ve been blessed to have loyal clients who persevered with me through unprecedented circumstances, but I still found myself with more down time in the spring than I would normally have to myself. I wanted to use this opportunity as a chance to push myself, to adapt to living life a little differently. A trusted mentor challenged me to stretch my skills and grow as a photographer through a personal, non-commercial project, focused on capturing a vision of my own.
This was the beginning of “Pursuing Isolation,” a 10-week project to photograph various locations around Indiana. The unique angle was that I photographed these places as they currently stood due to current restrictions, empty and quiet. These images were taken to record a time in history and to evoke a unique emotion. My lens took me around Central Indiana, and I told the story of the pandemic from a perspective of absence and emptiness. This challenge allowed me to pursue and express myself in a way many haven’t seen, and from the beginning I realized that these photographs could touch people in a unique way.
The images were difficult for me to look at, because they were a reminder of how unusual this year had become. Some, like an empty playground, brought profound sadness for the impact this year has had on our children. However, through this project I gained a sense of emotional strength that I never would have experienced otherwise. It was a labor of love, and a time to expand my thought process beyond the normal assignment. Although I am very proud of the body of work, it was an emotionally challenging and draining project, and after 10 weeks I decided it was time for “Pursuing Isolation” to come to a close.
2020 has been an incredibly unique year, which uprooted nearly everything we took for granted. It was a complex experience, varied and unpredictable. “Doing life differently” affected nearly every aspect of our lives, and we have all been forced to adapt. Despite everything, I still have hope or the future and what’s coming next, because simply surviving this year feels like a victory! The world is not where I wish it was as this year comes to a close, but we have endured, and I will greet 2021 with great hope and promise.