In an era unlike any other in our collective experience, I’ve found personal solace in storytelling. Consuming and creating stories—as a way to commiserate, learn, and sometimes, to escape.
Last March my career as a music photographer disappeared before my eyes. It was terrifying and demoralizing and brought on an existential crisis, making me question every decision I’ve made in my professional life. While I first grieved the loss, alternating between paralysis, cooking experiments, bingeing Netflix, walking around my neighborhood, and helping my son with Zoom school, I finally accepted the loss. I began following my natural interests and curiosity, looking closer to home for inspiration and opportunity.
I took time to learn how to better composite photos together—to create magical images that capture a feel rather than a moment. And, like all fiction, I found that in creating something fantastical I was actually honing in on emotional truths.
For my son (and then for other kids and families) I created a magical back to school photo that represented his current interests, even incorporating a dragon he drew into our collaborative concept. I love that I can capture who he is as a person, not just what he looks like at this age. And I wanted to keep going. Visions of new composites I wanted to create danced through my daydreams. So I kept creating.
It’s been extremely gratifying to create similar images for friends, family and clients for anything from corporate branding to portraits to holiday cards. I hope to keep creating more composites of my own making, collaborating with others, and expanding my creative mind and skills.
To that end, this year I have set a goal for myself that every week I will create a new composite image. It’s a way for me to push myself creatively while learning more about myself and the world around me. While I expected to be moved to create around the themes of inequality, racism, disconnection, homeschooling, or any number of other things I’m passionate about, my inspiration took another form … love. And when I think about it, that seems a good place to start.
This first image is a part of a series I’m creating called Quarantine: A Love Story.
I was extremely fortunate to have been about four months into a new love when the pandemic struck. We opted to quarantine together, thinking it would be two weeks or a month, tops. We were in that phase of the relationship when all we wanted was to spend time together anyway and now we had the perfect excuse. No pressure, no plans, just us. And a sixth grader.
Aside from never having navigated life in a global pandemic, this was also my first relationship with a woman. So there was a lot of newness. Newness is exciting, but it can also be scary. Luckily for us, what we discovered, as more and more time went on, was that we excelled at problem solving together. We took on projects around the house. We shared chores. I did most of the cooking. But when she saw me getting overwhelmed, she ordered delivery or takeout. We made simple things feel special. We walked on the beach. We watched sunsets. We turned the living room into a movie theater. We met each other’s friends and family via Zoom. We laughed (a lot). And cried. And vented. And held each other.
It felt like a movie love montage. Which could mean that I’ve binged too much Netflix, but I don’t think that’s it. I finally found out what love is meant to feel like. It’s her. It’s me. It’s us. We have each done a lot of work on ourselves, learned lessons from other relationships, healed from our own traumas and heartaches. And now it feels like we’ve finally gotten to our third act—the last piece of the puzzle.
I never expected to date a woman, let alone fall in love with one. I never expected to be stuck in my home and unable to travel as the whole world shut down. I didn’t expect to have to redesign my entire career overnight or help my son start a new school on Zoom. There is so much that I never anticipated about this time right now.
Beyond all the hard and unexpected things, the most unexpected of all was that I’d get to feel this good, this loved. It’s not about perfection. It’s not about perfectly met expectations or everything going our way. Those are things I have to keep working on in myself every day and I am grateful to have the tools to do so. And that is exactly what makes it feel so good. It’s not a fluke, or a phase, or a lucky accident. We are ourselves. And we are loved, fully.
Worldwide, the pandemic revealed our true feelings about each other, for better or worse, because when you’re stuck with the same people 24/7 all facades fall away. There’s nothing left to hide behind.
I am so very grateful that every day I have gotten to feel supported, nurtured, passionate. I know how rare this is. And I appreciate every single second of it. I wish this kind of love for each and every one of you. Whatever your story, you are worthy of magical, beautiful, supportive love.