Stuck inside and unable to take on any typical portrait or editorial commissions, many photographers are mostly out of work, bunkered indoors alongside their knick knacks like the rest of us. Still, though, these artists prove their ability to make art out of anything, emboldened by the presence of their cameras, hard drives and light. In an effort to celebrate the power of creativity under any circumstance, we asked 19 of our favorite photographers to shoot a still-life emblematic of their experience during quarantine, or to send through an image from their archive that feels most relevant to our current situation. Scroll down to see these simple, powerful images and read about what they’ve been thinking and feeling during this time.
Unititled, (April 2020). Photograph by Charlie Gates.
“I wanted to create an image that reflects our situation, isolated and constricted. The bottle shows that we can still stand up no matter what force is put on us.”
Still Life with Eva’s Right Earring, (April 2020). Photograph by Adam Kremer.
“I’ve been lucky to spend this period of quarantine with my girlfriend Eva in upstate New York. We’ve settled into the feeling of a slow vacation, enjoying the isolation and open air together. This image is made here as the sun set into Easter with Eva’s gold earring, a pink flag marker from our property line, and found copper on the index section of an Agnes Martin book. It describes creating from the simple means of living and hopefulness through the unknown.”
Grapefruit, (2020). Photograph by Bobby Doherty.
“I meticulously peel half a grapefruit every morning like this and put it in yogurt. When the slices break apart they look like little pink gemstones. The daffodil background is a postcard I bought at the serpentine gallery in London. A print of this photo will be for sale starting Thursday 4/16 at
picturesforelmhurst.com to raise money to go directly to Elmhurst Hospital.”
Backyard #3, (2020). Photograph by Hailey Heaton.
Salmon and Sprouts, (March 2020). Photograph by Alex Lockett.
Tea, (March 23rd, 2020, 9:39 PM). Photograph by Eva O’Leary.
“I’m not really sure how to express what it’s been like — right now it’s hard to process. Things change day by day, hour by hour. I saw this note when I drained the kitchen sink.”
Magic Roll, (March, 20, 2020). Photograph by David Brandon Geeting.
“My girlfriend, Lina Sun Park, who lives with me in quarantine, got this beautiful lilac toilet tissue in Paris last year, shortly after I gifted her a book called “Toilet Paper Crafts” on her birthday. She had plans for months to try out some of the crafts, and as I started to make new images every day in quarantine, we naturally started to collaborate, utilizing everything available in our apartment and finally finding the time to experiment with ideas that a rigid schedule didn’t allow us to before.”
Alone Together With My Feet, In The Sun, (2020). Photograph by Lindsay Ellary.
“Alone together with my feet, in the sun.”
An Evening In Nana’s Garden, (2018). Photograph by Jordan Tiberio.
“A few summers ago I felt compelled to document the gardens I grew up in behind my Nana’s home. The last shot I took was of the seating area where we held many tea parties as children and large family picnics. In times like these, I look to this photograph for peace, and the hopeful thought of one day sitting beside my Nana again in these empty chairs.”
Best of Everything, (2020). Photograph by Alexander Silva.
“This is the still life but not the boring life. Quarantined but not quiet. Thriving over surviving. Finding the lost and missing pieces from the pre-pandemic life and bringing the color and vibrancy back into the abstract.”
Something To Hold, (2020). Photograph by Ryan Duffin.
“There is something lonely about a disembodied mannequin hand, but there is also something sensual about it. I think this time in isolation from others is making us re-appreciate human touch and connection.”
Archive as Process: Productivity Fallacy, (2020). Photograph by Devin Blaskovich.
“This series of images was a reaction to the
productivity fallacy: how one must seem to be making the most of this isolated time period to continue to work. I was exploring the common photographer’s trope “Organizing the archive” as a prompt, going against that motif and instead using the archive to create new works that I otherwise wouldn’t address, albeit in a different way than what was imposed on me for how to be productive in this time period.”
Grill Life Still Life, (2020). Photograph by Luke Sirimongkhon.
“Creating things in quarantine has been challenging. Having limited resources really forces you to get creative. Sometimes I’m extremely motivated to make something, other times its really hard. I’ve been trying to come up with small challenges or exercises to keep me busy.”
Copacabana at Sunset, (2020).Photograph by Tonje Thilesen.
“I think everyone is coping with this situation differently. For me, it’s been to shoot something new every day, and make sure that I always have something to work on, even in moments when I feel weak. It helps keep my depression and anxiety at bay. I traveled to Medellin, Colombia before things got serious in the US, and I’m now stuck here until the airports open back up. It’s a stressful situation to be in financially, so I’m trying my best to keep it light.”
My Friends Are Smiling, (March 2020). Photograph by Alec Lesser.
“This photo is a part of a series I started just prior to the pandemic, and have continued work on through-out. I’ve been buying a lot of vintage toys and collecting bits and pieces that make me smile, finding a sense of play and joy that keeps my heart a little excited and laughing.”
Velvet Afternoon with Yellow Poppy, (2019).Photograph by Suzanne Saroff.
“I always keep fresh flowers in my apartment. Recently they keep making their way to my couch. The pink velvet has become a perfect backdrop. Little stories blooming from between the cushions. I am happy I chose this couch instead of the grey twill one I once considered.”
Out of My Apartment Window, Bronx, NY, (2016).Photograph by Justin von Oldershausen.
“I enjoy the idea of looking out the same window every day and seeing something different. There’s so much life within that frame — the details are forgotten until we’re forced to slow down and look.”
At Home, (April 9, 2020). Photograph by Maggie Shannon. Photograph by Maggie Shannon.
“I collected things around the house that my husband and I have been using daily. A crossword puzzle he completed, the orange I zested for a birthday cake I baked and left on a friend’s porch, an empty bottle of wine, hand soap and water colors I’ve been using to keep myself distracted. A few little objects and references that have been keeping our moods up during this crazy time. The more I photographed and worked on on this piece, the more I noticed my breath. I tried to incorporate this into the image through longer exposure and motion blur. My husband has asthma which makes him high risk for Covid-19. I hope to keep his breathing easy as we slowing make our way through this crisis.”
The impossible kiss, Corona days, (March 24th, 2020). Photograph by Elinor Carucci.
“This is my husband Eran’s mask now because I had to kiss him before he went out. When your man is going out to Trader Joe’s these days, you make sure to kiss him goodbye. I didn’t damage the mask, no worries, it fits his face perfectly well. I just added an extra layer of loving protection.”