For over a year, I have been working on a 4×5 (large format) film photo project documenting the people I have met through music. I have worked in the music industry as a photographer and journalist for almost six years now, and I have going to concerts and collecting records since I was in eighth grade. The majority of the people I know – my friends, my peers, my fiance – I have met through music. I don’t frequently do portraits in a documentary fashion, but over the past year I have been.
During March of this semester, everything came to a halt when the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic arose. For the past two months, I have been self-isolating in my home with my family, meaning my 4×5 project had to be paused. Instead of keeping it paused, however, I felt it would be interesting to see the way this pandemic is affecting the people I’ve met through music, and see how I could continue to document these people.
Beginning my process, I decided to put together a short Q&A form for each of my participants to fill out, briefly interviewing them about the way music fits into their life, the way COVID is affecting their life, and how the two are connected. I felt this was especially important after seeing the way the music industry is being directly affected by COVID with the cancellation of tours and a decrease in album and merchandise sales, huge sources of income for many people.
I then decided to connect with each of my subjects for photos in whatever way seemed most comfortable for them – both of my options being done remotely. I gave my subjects the option of being photographed in the location of their choice via video chat, or via Animal Crossing, a recently released and extremely popular life simulation game where each player has their own villager and can create their own island, home, and neighborhood. I had a lot of people choose this method, because it was a bit more silly and elaborate. I, as my villager, would fly to their island in the game, set up the shot with a virtual camera, and take it. For the other option, I had subjects set up a place in their living space (indoor or outdoor) that they wanted as a backdrop, and pose as a photographed them with my DSLR camera through a webcam and laptop.
I am very proud of how this body of work has come out so far, and I hope to continue it as the pandemic continues to wax and wane. I do plan on publishing my original People of Music series as a photo book when I feel it is complete, but I feel that this portion of it would be more fitting to do as an e-book or a zine, because of its digital basis and the atmosphere surrounding it. Though it was not my initial goal for the semester, I think it has become a very accurate representation of socializing in a socially-isolated world, and has given me a chance to further understand the experiences of my friends and colleagues.