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Capturing moments amidst COVID-19: How photographers are working during a pandemic

Photo provided by Ashley Conlon
Photo provided by Ashley Conlon

When the onset of a pandemic brought the world to a halt, photographers around Mercer’s campus had to reimagine their work. Between moving home and adapting to online classes, they changed their subjects and methods to continue producing content.

“There are so many things I used to take photos of that just aren’t happening anymore,” said Mitch Robinson, a junior media studies and Spanish major. 

As soccer is the only sport that has resumed competition, Robinson’s work as a photographer for Mercer Athletics remains sparse. Beyond the shortage of athletic events, Robinson also said he cannot stand on the sidelines of the soccer games he attends. Because of challenges like these, Robinson said that COVID-19 “forced me to start trying new things and new subjects that aren’t sports.” 

While still at home, he took advantage of the additional time to learn new techniques and experiment with portraits of his family. 

“Pushing my creativity was the main thing,” Robinson said.

Ashley Conlon, a senior art and Spanish major, said the pandemic has inspired her to be “thinking of new ways to keep doing photography, keep brightening your feed, and keep being safe.” 

For Conlon, this task involved taking her Great Pyrenese, Henry, to the dog park and photographing the other dogs there. 

“It’s just a fun little surprise for them,” Conlon said of the dogs’ owners. “And then I got to post some cute puppies on my page for other people to enjoy sweet puppies throughout their day.” 

Like Robinson, Conlon also moved away from her usual subjects by beginning to do product work instead of portraits. She does have a plan of returning to portraits, though. Conlon endorsed wearing a mask and social distancing in future sessions. She also intends to employ more technology.

“I have a really nice lens that zooms all the way in,” Conlon said.

For Abby Smith, a junior global health studies major, portrait photography is a social activity as well as an art. 

“It’s a chance to bond better with some of my friends,” Smith said.

Despite COVID-19, she has still been able to take portraits. She does this with a plan very similar to Conlon’s.

“I’ll wear my mask, use my macro lens and stand further back,” Smith said.

Additionally, she no longer repositions subjects by touching them. With these measures in place, Smith has been able to maintain the style of her pre-COVID-19 work. 

Even though Smith created photos similar to her previous ones, lockdown still provided her with an opportunity to experiment. She used the free time to try more landscape work.

“It gives me the chance to improve other skills, like figuring out different settings on my camera, without ruining someone’s picture,” Smith said. 

Like countless other things, photography has had to adapt to a COVID-19 world. In adapting their craft, photographers around Mercer demonstrated creativity and growth.

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