During the pandemic, it was difficult to get work as a photographer. People remained isolated to their homes, dealing with their own work uncertainty. However, when feasible, photojournalists sought to capture moments of the pandemic that will become an important piece of history.
Photojournalists captured scenes of the frontlines, providing a crucial look into the gravity of the pandemic. Without them, there would be a lack of accurate visuals for those less impacted. The work of photojournalists during the pandemic sparked empathy for those saying their final goodbyes to loved ones via Facetime. It created a look into communities in other countries and how they remained resilient.
“Facilitating human connection is at the heart of what we do as journalists. With the pandemic, human connection is much harder to come by. Everything in our lives has become more difficult.”– Andrew nixon
The work they do is fueled by a passion to capture moments many will eventually forget about. It requires face-to-face interaction with that moment that cannot be worked around via phone call or online interview. Many struggled with receiving adequate cleaning equipment, “The issue has been such a concern that the NPPA (National Press Photographers Association) put out a list of recommendations, which was mostly curated by photojournalists from places such as Houston, Seattle, and San Francisco”, Poynter wrote on their website.
The New York Times talks about a photojournalist, Caitlin Ochs, who captured images of the pandemic in Brooklyn. The article, written by Marc Tracy, explains that her cleaning process took up more than an hour while she disinfected all her equipment.
In addition to connecting us with emotions these images evoked, photojournalists gave evidence towards false information and fake news about the virus. A picture spoke a thousand words against those claiming the virus was not dangerous.
What It Represents
Ultimately, this is what makes photojournalism during this time so outstanding. In itself, it represents the pursuit of economic stability while simultaneously highlighting the inevitable struggle all humans are facing. Importantly, it was a risk. Photojournalists resorted to the use of long lenses and social distancing measures. This made getting close-up shots of history in the making a process that lacked instruction and put many in the face of fear, risking contraction of COVID-19.
Pandemic photojournalism brings attention to the universal resilience of this historic moment. While the journey of being a photojournalist has been far from easy, their work highlights this universal struggle for all of humanity. Peter Turnley is yet another example of a photojournalist who captured the emotions revealed by those on the frontlines in New York.
He developed a black-and-white diary of New Yorkers and Parisians battling the pandemic. His work gives a visual of the weight of the struggle, especially how these emotions we all experience are connecting us all to specific moments some of us may or may not ever experience.