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IBARRIA PHOTO: In Times of the Rona

In the Times of Rona is a linguistic-based concept that narrates the experience of working-class people during the Covid19 pandemic. The inspiration came from my own isolation and contemplation during the Coronavirus. As a natural observer of life, I was curious about what was actually happening to other people. Sympathetic to everyone’s coping process, I began to ask friends and people online about their real-world experiences. It took me a few weeks to build up the courage to step outside the house and engage with someone else. Once I was able to overcome my own fears, I began to feel empowered by everyone’s story and courage. 

The literal subject matter is portraits of people living in Los Angeles, photographed wearing a face mask, white background, and a personal note that explains their current thoughts. In addition to the fears of the virus, isolation is heavy on people and their mental health. By including their notes, we get a glimpse of their current state of mind. The project is documenting business owners, vendors, artists, the unemployed, and healers.

 I simulated the polaroid frame because it gives an instant feel, similar to my photoshoots with the subjects. During my engagement with every subject, I have used gloves and a mask for my protection and theirs. I appreciate their vulnerability and trust, the process of photographing them has helped us cope with our own fears and thoughts for the future. By sharing our stories we begin to heal from the crisis that is affecting everyone in one way or another.

The intent is to communicate the new normal, their thoughts, and shared experiences. By using a white background, each image has a shared environment that is intended to look clinical. The subjects posed using a frontal position or a three-quarter shot to engage the viewer in a visual dialog. Clothing is important as it communicates class and culture. Through these elements, we know who these people are and reveal the essence of the subject. The pandemic has impacted every subject emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Body language is a key element that expresses their emotional state. In addition, their notes are a timestamp that is both reflective and provides context.  

The intended outcome is for the viewer to connect and relate to a shared experience. While the pandemic has isolated and disconnected many people physically, individualizing our experiences; In the Times of the Rona humanizes our collective experience empowering us to stay connected and keep moving forward. While Covid19 might be something we will have to live with until there is a cure, we should admire our own resilience. Each subject has its own mechanism for self-care. The work is meant to tell a story and build from each other shared experience but most importantly for future generations to learn from.

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Entertainment with a Social Justice Twist!

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