Your daily average screen time has doubled. You're finding that every time you pick up your phone, you begin scrolling through social media. You're even replying to your mom's text messages in a timely manner.
What you're craving is human connection.
As photographers, working from home isn't new. The novelty of setting up your home workstation, or being able to take client calls in your pajamas wore off long before COVID-19 existed. Meanwhile, the freedom our profession usually allows us is non-existent. No daily visits to our favorite coffee spots. No face to face contact with our clients. And limited opportunities to go and shoot whenever and wherever.
If there's one thing that's become clear, it's that finding new ways to socialize will be crucial to our mental health in these uncertain times. Around the world, creative people are finding ways to connect with friends, family, co-workers, clients, and even strangers. Through random acts of kindness, virtual connections, and shared happiness, they're to helping beat back the loneliness of self-isolation and quarantine.
Have you been on social media in the past few weeks? If you have, you would have seen the clips of Italians lining their balconies to take part in sing-along sessions together. Their sense of community and their enjoyment in a simple pleasure is infectious — the sort of ‘infectious’ that we need in our life right now.
No balcony? No willing neighbors? No problem. “Couch Choirs” have begun to spring up all over the internet, helping people to connect through music. They’re utilizing streaming platforms to come together online, learning new songs, and performing them together. Some of these virtual choirs are 500 strong, and they’re providing much needed regular human contact for people who are stuck in isolation.
Many singers and musicians have begun using their talents to entertain their local neighborhoods. In Madrid, Spain, Beatriz Berodia, also known as Betta, performs a half-hour blues concert for her neighbors every evening.
Fact: staying fit and healthy helps strengthen your immune system as well as improve your mood and mental health. However, while in lockdown, it can be hard to find the motivation to maintain an exercise regime. In Seville, Spain, one fitness instructor has been helping people stay motivated by running rooftop aerobics classes.
One new sport that is suddenly getting its moment in the spotlight is balcony tennis. We’re impressed with the coordination of these two Italians, although we’re not entirely sure what happens when the ball drops.
Keeping up social connections can be a bit difficult these days if you don’t have social media. But this senior living home from Minnesota, USA, is making sure no one feels lonely with daily hallway activities, including hallway bingo.
Going on a bear hunt
On the other side of the world in New Zealand, communities are keeping children entertained by propping stuffed teddy bears in their windows. Parents can drive around the neighborhood with their kids spotting the stuffed toys. The novel "bear hunt" was inspired by the Michael Rosen children's book: We're Going on a Bear Hunt.
We're all looking for ways to bring happiness to our community using the talents and resources we have. We want to remain connected to the outside world. It's more than to ensure we retain our clients, or to increase sales in a time of stress. We do it because we genuinely care about the happiness of others. In a time of uncertainty, it's nice to be able to share our talents with those who make our day-to-day jobs not just possible, but enjoyable.
While being in social isolation, many photography businesses have gone on hold. Dave Puente of Minneapolis is hitting the streets. From the roadside, he’s able to capture portraits of willing families and couples on their porches.
“I wanted to give people something that they can hang on the wall and in a few years look back on. I want them to see that in such a frantic and scary time, that there was some silver lining to it.”
Each portrait is a story of a family who is navigating their way through a new way of living. It’s a record of their struggles and successes. It's a reminder that even in tough times, you have your loved ones around you.
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“Kyle was supposed to be off this week and our family was supposed to be in Florida soaking up the sun. But, travel isn’t responsible and as a hospital doctor, Kyle is now going in every day. It is what it is. Staying at home with these kids is full of fun and chaos, but it’s also difficult to be running a large nonprofit animal rescue from home. And it’s not like the animals don’t need rescue anymore. Lots of new norms going on around here! But we are rolling with the punches. And we are healthy. Counting our blessings!” -@rachelmairose
Short online tutorials
For many people, quarantine has become an opportunity to learn new skills. Share your skillset with the rest of the world by running simple online tutorials. These could be as basic as a series of Instagram Stories where you show your followers and clients basic composition techniques, or how to make the most of natural light. Almost everyone has a phone with a camera on it these days, and you can give back to the community by sharing a few basics. Don't worry; they're not going to become master photographers with their iPhone overnight. Helping others get the most out of their family happy snaps is just a small way you can give back to your online community. It's a small way to help make isolation more enjoyable for all.
Shareable videos of fond memories
During this period of isolation, many people are taking trips down memory lane — particularly on social media. Reach out to past clients with a short slideshow of their special moments, combined with a heartwarming message, and a few words of encouragement. It’s not about selling your work; it’s about lifting others up, reminding them of the good times, and sharing something positive. It’s your opportunity to make your clients smile during these uncertain times, and it’s a gesture that will undoubtedly mean a lot to them.
Giving back is one of the easiest ways to create a strong bond with others in the same situation. It benefits not just the receiver but also the giver. No doubt, helping to lift people up in times of stress is good for your mental health. We’d love to hear what you’re doing to make isolation and quarantine a little bit more bearable for yourself and those around you. Reach out to us — we’re all in this together.