Portraits in Isolation

After COVID-19 had taken hold in the community, Peter Izzard a professional photographer located on the NSW South Coast found his usual photography work suddenly dried up, and his ability to shoot in the usual ways was halted. After some thought, instead of sitting around waiting and worrying, He found a way of documenting this unique time in our history.

‘I came up with the idea of Portraits in Isolation, documenting via the medium of photography this unique period in our history. These images have become a collection that records unique snippets of family life in 2020.

To start with, I promoted the project on my social media, and was surprised at the positive response. Over the next few months of the lockdown I visited over 80 homes, from all over Sydney, the Illawarra and Shoalhaven. During these short shoots, from a safe distance I photographed people (including individuals & families) outside their homes.

Participants were free to present themselves however they liked, be themselves, get dressed up, or even show something interesting they’d been doing. They also brought out their pets, including dogs, cats, horses, goats, snakes and lizards. I photographed singles, couples and families from all walks of life, and all types of homes, including tents, buses and cabins.

The project captured a period of our history in an honest and real way. I asked the same three questions of each household, in order to add to the images story. Everyone, although in a similar situation, had their own unique responses. The feedback from the participants as well as viewers of my images via my Portrait in Isolation Facebook and Instagram pages has been incredible, with both them and myself having gained from the experience.

By being in this project, participants had something interesting to look forward to during what was for many, a time of loneliness and struggle, some said they had not even spoken to another “real” person in weeks. Portraits in Isolation provided in a small way, a positive sense of being a part of something meaningful within the community during a time of great worry and stress.

The Portraits in Isolation project also gave me something of real substance to focus my energies on, and as I live alone it allowed me to connect with others in a meaningful way. I saw the project as an important ingredient in maintaining my own mental wellbeing during this time, in a way that would stand me in good stead for when my work began to come back.

Some participants paid a small fee to help cover my costs, which provided some income in a period where I had lost all of my other work. Eventually I’d like to combine this collection of images and words into a beautiful book, and hope that it will form part of the historical record from this time. In the future I hope we all will look back and be proud of our efforts in helping to prevent COVID-19 take hold in our communities, and hopefully cherish one another and our planet a little more. Perhaps we will also have learned a few new useful things too.’ Pete Izzard

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