By now your life probably revolves around COVID19. So I’m not going to write a post about how we need to support small businesses right now. I’m not going to write a post about how we are all in this together. I’m not going to write a post about how we all need to be responsible about social distancing. You’ve already read all those posts and articles and seen all those news stories.
Like all of you, I have a lot of feelings about what is going on in the world. But there’s one feeling in particular that bothers me the most. And it’s a feeling that I’ve had about my work even before the world was turned upside down with an awful pandemic. It’s a feeling of uselessness, helplessness, and that I’m not doing enough. I love photography. Even on my worst day, I still love it far more than I ever loved any other of the many many jobs I’ve had. But sometimes I worry that it’s not IMPORTANT enough. My skillset doesn’t include any expertise on fighting climate change, fighting social and economic injustice, feeding the hungry or housing the homeless. My portfolio doesn’t really even lend itself to hard-hitting photojournalism. And now in this time when we need skilled heroes, I got nothing. Even my sewing machine is still in the box in came in because I never took the time to get it out of the box and learn how to use it!
But I know that photography is important in other meaningful ways. It helps us to remember, and memories are priceless. So after some thought about what I had to say or what I could do with the skills I do have, here is what I have to offer you:
THREE PHOTO-RELATED THINGS YOU SHOULD BE DOING WHILE QUARANTINED
MAKING PHOTO BOOKS – Your life may currently revolve around COVID19, but it hasn’t always. I’m guessing most of you take photos on your cell phones and that’s where they stay for years or until your phone storage gets full. It’s hard to know what to do with them or how to organize them. Full disclosure – I myself am behind on my own projects. But I like to make two kinds of books: travel books and yearbooks.
Travel or vacation books should be a no-brainer. You pop all of those images into one folder and you make a memory book to remember your trip. If you are like me and have the WORST memory, sit down with (or Zoom with) your loved ones who went on the trip with you and reminisce while you ask if they remember where that beach shot was taken.
If you’re not much of a traveler, make yearbooks! Start with your images from 2019 and work your way back as far as you’d like. Working through your images in this way is a great way for you to decide which images are really special and worth keeping and which ones you can clear away for storage space. And don’t be afraid to start that 2020 yearbook, even if you are just taking photos of yourself in quarantine. These are historic times we are living through, and even though they don’t seem worth documenting now, in 50 years it will be an amazing story to share with family.
Never made a photobook? Here are some great services to get you started:
Shutterfly They almost always have specials running for their product so make sure you seek out those promo codes.
Mixbook At the time of this post, they were running a 50% off special, but again, always check for promo codes.
REFRESH YOUR WALLS AND FRAMES – Raise your hand if you have a box of old photo frames somewhere that you don’t know what to do with? Or if you’ve lived in your home for 5 years and still have vast empty walls because you just haven’t decided what you want on them yet? No? Just me? I doubt it! Get out that box of frames, decide which ones you still like , give them a good cleaning or painting and breathe some life back into them. Go through your recent photos and find what brings you joy and PRINT THEM! If you have had professional photos done and never did anything with them except send holiday cards, reach out to your photographer and ask if they can take a print order right now. You may have to wait as some print labs have shut down, but you may still be able to get them right away. If all you have is cell phone photos, that’s FINE. You can still make great wall art from them. Then hang them where you can see them and enjoy them every day because that’s what photos are for! Personally, I always have a hard time with the arranging. If you can relate, here is a great link to some design help to get you started:
And if you really don’t have that box of old photo frames, consider supporting small businesses by ordering some frames from Etsy makers. Here are a few of my favorites:
GIVE YOURSELF A PHOTO PROJECT – Just recently I was sitting on my butt on my sofa watching TV, the back door was propped open so my dog could go in and out as he pleased. And I saw a few beautiful butterflies hovering around our orange tree. And I thought to myself, I should go get my camera and my macro lens and see if I can get some pictures of it. BUT, I didn’t. Don’t be like me. Get up and do it! Sometimes the only fresh air we get each day is in our own backyards or on our neighborhood walks. Take your fancy camera or your old retro camera or your cell phone and seek out the beauty around you. At this point it will probably be mostly in the little things you see, like birds or flowers or sidewalk chalk drawings. But it might be in the sky or in your living room. Document it. Post it on your social media. Add it to your 2020 yearbook!
If you take any of my advice to heart and tackle these projects, please be careful with any packages being delivered to your home. Disinfect or allow to sit for a few days before bringing them into your home. Be safe out there!