Since March, I’ve had it easy. I haven’t lost any family members, and my parents have kept their jobs. Nonetheless, adjusting to the new normal has been a tremendous pivot. The second semester of my senior year of high school was virtual; my dad’s haircuts now take place in the backyard; time spent with friends is rare; my screen time has skyrocketed. After a year of dating, my girlfriend and I began to occasionally sleep at each other’s houses on opposite ends of New York City. I became closer with her family, and she with mine. On the whole, however, I spent more time alone than ever before.

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Since March, the imagery of my day-to-day life has changed dramatically. Divorced from my usual surroundings (of friends and acquaintances, teachers and classmates, my fellow New Yorkers on subway cars and the members of a youth-led climate activism coalition that I photographed weekly), I struggled to stay inspired. At a time when the city was hauntingly dormant, I found myself unable to document the moment. My cameras collected dust. 

By May, the days were longer, the weather was warmer and New York City awoke from its hibernation. Invigorated by an online photography course focused on documenting the pandemic, I began producing work consistently, held accountable by my similarly stuck classmates. I found solace in setting my camera on a tripod and making self-portraits. I photographed light dancing through my house in ways I hadn’t noticed before. In June, visiting three friends in Upstate New York, I explored their relationships and dynamics through my lens; witnessing their familiar mannerisms (in circumstances so different from our pre-pandemic antics) comforted me. I had found a rhythm — a new one, but a rhythm nonetheless.

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Rough patches of mental health have driven me toward photography sometimes, and away others. My first few weeks of college, lacking friends and structure, I was creatively paralyzed. By the end of September, however, sick with COVID-19, quarantined and incredibly lonely in a Northwood apartment on North Campus, I summoned the strength to keep photographing and captured what are now some of my favorite self-portraits.

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Since March — from shooting for that photo class to developing and scanning film in my basement to editing for The Daily — I have been enriched by several facets of the medium. In the first few months of the pandemic, I beat myself up for lacking a concrete photo project or essay idea, but I have come to greatly appreciate the creative flexibility I have allotted myself this past year. It has allowed me to document the changes in my life with patient determination.

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The uncanniness of every moment since March ties this body of work together. A similar peculiarity hangs over photos of my mom on the beach on a weekday in May, new friends made from a safe distance at college, a “Count Every Vote” rally on the Diag in early November and my grandmother in her living room in Ohio in January (after months without seeing her).

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I will always be grateful that I had the motivation, as well as the physical and mental strength, to photograph and document how this transition has manifested in my own life. It has been an incredible privilege.

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