New York City wedding photographer Priyanca Rao’s business came to a halt in March when weddings and other gatherings were canceled for the foreseeable future due to coronavirus. On top of the financial stress, Rao was quarantining in a small apartment with her husband — a health care worker — and their two young kids in one of the places hit hardest by the pandemic.
To cope with the anxiety, she created a Facebook group so she could connect and collaborate with other photographers in isolation. What came out of it was a photography project that captures a slice of life for the 1.5 billion people around the world who were ordered to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Since mid-March, the group has grown into a global community of nearly 800 members from the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, New Zealand, Mexico, Uruguay and India, among other countries.
“You can find bored quarantine self-portraits, creative fort tents for kids, antsy pets, confinement proposals, kids on sugar highs and so many more stories,” Rao told HuffPost. “The photos span cultures and continents, and show how people are adapting to social distancing in their own unique ways.”
For Rao, the hardest part of the last several months has been balancing homeschooling a 3-year-old and 5-year old with work-related tasks and household chores.
“The kids are not at an age where they can learn independently,” she said. “When I leave the room, they are like cats in a yarn store. Getting them to focus and listen has been hard, because as a mother, I want them to reach their milestones academically. But I also don’t want their memories of this time to be of their mom yelling constantly.”
But in the midst of the challenges, there have been some sunny spots, too — like the friendships and support systems Rao has built virtually.
“Starting with my local mommy group, who are my pillars of strength, my cousins who I reconnected with and so many new photographers I connected with through online communities,“ she said. “I feel so supported and am constantly reminded that we are all in this together.”
Working on this project has also helped Rao find gratitude in the midst of a very challenging period.
“One of our members, Gaby Ermstrang, said that this time with her kids was ‘almost the perfect life’ if you remove the financial aspect,” Rao said. “She makes a valid point because we will probably never have dedicated family time like this ever again. It’s a great reminder to live in the present and enjoy what we have.”
To see how the photographers and their families are holding up, check out the images below with captions from the artists themselves:
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