My Quarantine Photo Diary Zooming in On Stillness during the Great Pause
“Watching nature continue to emerge, change, and bloom, just as it always has, gave me hope that our world would heal someday soon.”
My Quarantine Photo Diary, a collection of intimate wildlife and wildflower photographs taken near my home during The Great Pause, was on display in my city's civic center in January-February 2021. My goal in curating the collection was to share how watching nature continue to emerge, change, and bloom, just as it always had, gave me hope that our world would heal.
Virtual Gallery Tour: If you missed seeing the collection in person, you can enjoy the show from the comfort of home. I made a video to take a virtual gallery tour. Please give yourself 10 minutes, put on your personal favorite background music and enjoy with your favorite beverage, a warm cup of coffee, a whiskey, or glass of wine. My personal choice for background music (on Spotify or on the stereo) is Loreena McKennitt's Tango to Evora followed by The Never-Ending Road. (The next time I make a virtual gallery tour, I promise to record my own musical accompaniment on flute.)
I am usually energized by challenges, but during the first quarantined days of the Covid-19 pandemic, my creative juices were frozen. Then, after several weeks of despair, grief, and fear, I began to look at our time at home as an opportunity to get quiet and appreciate the stillness. I found great solace in noon walks with my husband, my “quaranteam” partner. I realized I was noticing light in the darkness at my feet, out my window, and right in my neighborhood. Watching nature continue to emerge, change, and bloom, just as it always has, gave me hope that our world will heal someday soon. I started going out on solitary explorations with camera in hand after spying a new bud emerging, fawns sleeping in the woods, and an amazing giant mushroom on a fallen tree. Our home was a refuge surrounded by everchanging natural beauty. I chose to turn the quarantine, a time that forced us to stop all travel and performing, and limited our time with friends and family, into an opportunity to really focus on experiencing and appreciating our home, the seasons passing, and zooming in on the details right at our back door. Taking photos was at first just a way to practice my skills while I couldn’t create my usual portraits, but then I realized I had made a collection.
My goal as a photographer is to capture the essence of a place or structure, or a person at just the right moment. Just like I focus on showcasing each person's special qualities in a portrait, I do the same with my flower and animal portraits. Focusing on a wide scene is nice, but a “hero” subject zoomed in to see every intricate detail is exhilarating. It’s a thrill to capture an expression or gesture from the wild animals in our yard. One of my friends, when I told her I bought an ultra-zoom point-and-shoot for birds said, “You want to be IN the nest!” That is so true. For this collection, I also used my petite mirrorless Sony a6400 with either my Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 lens or my magical Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens. These lenses require me to move around, above, and below my subjects while making creamy, painterly backgrounds.
This series of work from a time of sadness helps share how it is possible to celebrate our intimate circle and find joy right outside our own doorstep while we wait to travel and gather again. The City of Novi, Michigan, in metro Detroit where I live honored me with a solo gallery exhibit in the Novi Civic Center Atrium Gallery in January-February 2021. Seeing the prints framed and on display in that beautiful, sunlit space was just the ray of sunshine we all needed. Click here to tour the Virtual Gallery of My Quarantine Photo Diary on YouTube.
If you would like a copy of the collection, a 60-page softcover book, My Quarantine Diary: Zooming in On Stillness During the Great Pause, send me an email at WordSmithPhoto@gmail.com with Quarantine Photo Book in the subject line, and we'll work out the details.