Secret Page: At Home During the Pandemic

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Melissa Jean at Home

Beauty and Grace

Melissa Jean, a former Playboy cover model, contemplates better days ahead after the Pandemic. What does she miss the most? Her freedom. Getting back to work and traveling again.

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Unpublished Works

This is an unpublished page to preview photos as I begin a new project. The page is not reachable through the menu system but if you are here, its because someone (probably me) shared the link with you. So why isn’t this page published? Its because the works are evolving. As of the publication date, Friday, November 13, 2020, I have only shot two subjects. I’m creating this page for grant applications and for future candidates who want to learn more about my project. Images on this page will be updated as new work is available. The most recent work will be at the top of the page with older work pushed down below the fold.

The Situation

The world is rapidly transforming because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are our behaviors evolving to normalize social distancing but our language and our economy is rapidly adjusting. This change affects people profoundly, but in different ways. Years in the future, the next generation will ask us “what was it like living during the pandemic?” We will all have our stories to tell about how we couldn’t shake hands, hug friends, and kiss family; but, it will be difficult to truly communicate the feelings we had about the lifestyle we were forced to adapt to. I’m not sure if we will ever return to the days before the words “social distancing”, “quarantine”, and “face mask” became part of our daily vocabulary. I hope we will some day soon return to more intimate social interactions but the trauma of this event may have changed our social behavior permanently. In that case, the question might well be “What was it like before social distancing?” To the next generation, all of our handshaking, hugging, and kissing may be considered as unsanitary as we think of our grandparents practice of sharing the bath water with the whole family.

The Project

This project is intended to capture life while living through the pandemic. I am visiting people in their homes to capture their experience, feelings, and surroundings to tell the story of the COVID-19 pandemic. My goal is to expose and document the most intimate feelings of the pandemic experience; vulnerability, isolation, loneliness, uncertainty, insecurity, etc. People feel safest in their homes. Home is where they are likely to let their guard down and expose their vulnerability. Clothing is the last barrier of physical and emotional protection; it defines us in a certain way. For those who are willing, I ask them to shed some or all of their clothes or dress as they might at home alone; leaving them most vulnerable, but safe.

I seek to photograph people of broad socioeconomic means, men and women of all races and cultures. My geography will be limited to the multicultural region of Miami and south Florida where I live. I am seeking grant money to publish the book and produce/exhibit large prints. If I were able to secure a large grant, I would use funds to compensate participants ($50-$100 each) who are unemployed or otherwise adversely impacted by the pandemic.

I will interview people to understand how they have been impacted by the pandemic. How have they been economically impacted? Have they lost their job or income? Do they work from home? How has it impacted their relationship with close friends and family? How are they coping with isolation? Are they an “at-risk” person or do they live with an at-risk person? I will look for a personal story that I can leverage to create a work of photographic art. I may be able to capture the story with an environmental portrait or I may choose to incorporate emotive portraits into a photo composition. I will create one fine art images of each subject which is to be exhibited in a fine art photo book. My vision is for each image to have its own spread in the book with a brief narrative about the person and their story. Ultimately, I desire to have fifty or more stories and to have a curated exhibit of larger than life prints that allow the viewer to step into the world of each person.

This is both an artistic as well as an exploratory endeavor. I believe the portfolio will tell my story as well as the story of the people I meet and photograph. I seek to express my feelings through photographs as I explore the emotions of others. It is a journey to discover my own ghosts as well as to surface the ghosts of others.

Older Works Below

Cass and Jason

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Pathos – At Home

This is the inspirational image for the At Home project. The image was restored from an old print, circa 1978, which made me recall feelings I had when I was on my own, feeling very insecure, at age 20 struggling to earn my way through college.