Viewfinders Manifesto #5: We believe that while photography might be a solo pursuit, it is made much more enjoyable when practiced with the support of a community.
Community is why each of us are here… sharing our photos and our stories and inviting you all to share yours with us through our guest posts or on instagram. Our Viewfinders “manifestos” cover a wide range of reasons for why we all pick up our camera on a daily (or perhaps monthly) basis. Sometimes we are chasing light, or narrowing our focus on the small and delicate, or widening our view of the world via travel or a walk through our neighborhood. Perhaps our daily routines at home or the family pet’s antics capture our interest. Whatever the impulse to press the shutter, the photos we make resonate with us for different reasons after the fact.
And now, here we are, the whole world in the grip of COVID-19. So, we sat down to ask ourselves, what is getting us through this massive global shift? Are you doing documentary shooting of your social distancing? Are you expressing your feelings through self portraiture? Are you studying up on things you’ve been waiting on? Are you putting in overtime, washing your hands raw, losing sleep, or maybe relishing in the calendar that’s clear all of a sudden? How has COVID-19 affected your life, and how are you coping? How do we see in a time of pandemic?
My children are small, so all of us being together often, in our home, in our yard, out on walks, isn’t so odd. What I’ve loved, though, is seeing families with older children all out spending time together. The teenagers and even college-aged kids out walking the dog with their parents give me hope.
Ever since I picked up a camera, I’ve studied every nook and cranny of light around my house. Year after year, season after season..since self quarantining, I appreciate it now more than ever.
I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon with fads and trends, so while I admire the latest efforts to bring joy to your neighborhood by drawing rainbows and putting them in your window, it’s not something I will be doing, especially now that my kids are grown. But when I returned home from my walk yesterday, I found my own rainbow right in my kitchen window. And it did, indeed, bring me joy.
When all this started, I would wake up and anxious thoughts would flood my mind, then I would grab my phone and search for the latest version of the news. Now, weeks later, I have settled into a new routine; now, I lay still for a few moments, and try to resist the pull of the world around me. Instead, I lay still, take some deep breaths, and say a prayer of thanks for existence.
I have been taking solace in poetry. Learning about it, reading it, soaking it all in. Concentrating on the words seems to make the worries fade. For a little anyway.
And I’ve enrolled my mother on the same course; I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed sharing thoughts about poetry with her.
All things nature are grounding me right now, including the tulips scattered throughout our home. Now, I know that tulips have a lovely way of leaning and drooping after a few days in a vase, but this lone tulip on the kitchen windowsill began its leaning almost immediately after being placed on the windowsill. It was uncanny how fast this freshly-clipped tulip bowed. Straight into the kitchen. Into our home. If that’s not a metaphor for these times, I don’t know what is.
Holding on to our seasonal traditions and daily structure wherever I am able, and making my peace with the necessary accommodations where it’s impossible.
Floating in the balance between these two states is one of the ways I am preserving my equilibrium.
I stand each morning at our kitchen window and for a brief minute in time all seems normal. I watch as the sun rises over the hills across the lake and listen to the birds waking up. Standing there, I plan one thing to do that will break up my day. Some days it is something I have been putting off, like cleaning out the pantry, other days it is something I need or want to do. Yesterday I baked bread and today I will get out in the garden and put the first planting of lettuce and carrots in the ground.
I’m passing the time working on a few new tricks to help my high school students (and me!) survive this era of distance learning. In just the last two weeks alone, I’ve managed to figure out how to take photos from an iPhone while tethered and recording to my school laptop, record, edit and upload videos to Vimeo, conduct interviews through Zoom and host live classes through Google Meet. Who knows what technology next week will bring?!
STACI LEE KENNELLY
My family and I are home and have been filling our days with games, Netflix, and food. So much food. Having four adults make breakfast, lunch, and dinner produces a lot of dishes. It inspired me to bring back my sink project. I think I needed some normalcy and a reminder that life will be lived outside of these walls once again.
KIM THOMPSON STEEL
The first couple of weeks I was opening kitchen cupboards or the fridge and eating out of sheer boredom. As our current reality becomes “normal”, I’m picking up my phone or my Canon when I take a break from work and wandering through the house or garden. Instead of diving into a bowl of cereal for the second or third time, I connect with whichever family member I run into (including the dog), take a photo, check in. My teen’s new social reality means phone time with friends… my own sanity requires that I take a photo of her doing it. Big toe thumbs up. #moseycouchseries
We’re heading into week four of Philadelphia’s stay-at-home order, and as much as I’d love to report that I’ve been productive, learning a new skill or pursuing a quest of self-improvement, I’ve mostly been doing my best to keep my head above water. That sounds dramatic. It’s not. We’ve been eating well, walking our dog and cleaning up the garden. I’ve particularly been enjoying my flowers this spring and both of us have been cherishing every moment with Major, our Australian Shepherd. He’s approaching 15 this summer and with all this extra time at home, we’ve noticed that he’s slowing down. We can’t help but be grateful for the extra time together and have been spoiling him rotten daily.
Another thing that is getting us through these strange and unsettling times is reaching out to one another. The Viewfinders recently had a zoom call to connect face-to-face (so to speak) instead of just through our images and words. It was a gift, and we all couldn’t think why we hadn’t done it sooner. We are hoping that beyond Covid-19 we will continue to connect with each other through zoom and future meet-ups.