2020 WEEK 19: Documentary – Daily Life during a Pandemic

It seems that our daily lives have been upended almost overnight by the COVID-19 pandemic and yet life continues in what feels like a parallel universe. Your challenge this week is to document (with photography) something notable that has changed in your life due to the pandemic – something that you think might be of interest to future generations (or even historians) 100 years from now.

Learning to Sew One Mask at a Time by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero
Learning to Sew One Mask at a Time by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

Documentary photography is all about storytelling. While you will only post one photo this week, I encourage you to approach this week’s challenge as a “project”. Think about what you want to document about your experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, I took the above photo because my husband asked me to teach him how to sew – the first time he’s ever done so – so that he could help make face masks.

It is likely that many of us will choose similar subjects this week since we are all having a shared experience. Please do not feel that you need to come up with something different if someone posts a photo similar to your idea. I want you to post an image that is meaningful to your life and your experience.

“Be aware of your feelings [when] you are working on your project. Make photographs that are in tune with your mood and how you are experiencing what you are doing… Your view of the world is unique, and your photographs should portray this.” – Kevin Landwer-Johan in How to Create a Documentary Photography Project

I took the photo below because it was the first time I realized I couldn’t just make a quick stop to pick up birdseed after my weekly grocery run. The employees were actually very gracious and I was able to place an order over the phone while sitting in front of the store in my car. Even so, it was one of those moments when it hit me just how far reaching the changes to daily life would be.

Do Not Enter! by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero
Do Not Enter! by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

Extra credit: Come up with a title for your image before you even take the photo. This will help focus your intent for the image and the story you wish to convey. Also, feel free to include text with your photo to help tell your story.

Need ideas? Here are a few articles that show what other photographers have been shooting lately:

To recap this week’s challenge:

  • Take a photo that documents or tells a story of your experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Please follow all local regulations while taking your photo.
  • While technically not “documentary”, self-portraits are allowed this week.
  • Post your photo during the week of Sunday, May 3 and Saturday, May 9.
  • Please remember to comment on at least FIVE photo submissions this week. I encourage you to consider how you connect with or respond to the story that the photo tells.

The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Take a new photo for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Post your photo each week to our active communities on Facebook or Flickr (or both). Tag the photo:  #2020photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2020 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

About thedigitaljeanie

I’m a self-taught photographer and way back when I used to love taking photos, but I allowed a business that I started in 2004 to take over my life and my photographic repertoire was reduced to quick product shots and how-to tutorials. When I joined the PhotoChallenge in December 2015, I was looking to rekindle my creativity and bring some joy back into my photography. I jumped in with both feet and have not looked back. I believe that photography can change the way we see and interact with the world around us. Some people may think that I hide behind the camera, but I feel that I experience the world in a much more intimate way when I am creating a composition in my viewfinder. In those moments distractions disappear, my mind focuses and I am fully present. It is just me and my camera capturing a moment in time that might otherwise go unnoticed. My background is as varied as the photos that I take. I’ve trained and worked as a software engineer, a massage therapist, an English teacher in Vietnam, a photo restoration artist (which is how I learned Photoshop) and for the past twelve years I have run a small software business with my husband where I have been published in numerous books and magazines, appeared on PBS television, created designs for fabric, quilts and machine embroidery and won awards for some of my quilts. It should come as no surprise that I am intensely curious about life and love to learn new things. I am blessed to live in the beautiful state of Colorado, USA in the Rocky Mountain foothills outside of Fort Collins with my husband and cat. You can find me online at: Photos: flickr.com/photos/the-digital-jeanie/ Day job: KaleidoscopeCollections.com Facebook: facebook.com/jeaniesa