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When the Covid-19 epidemic hit New York City full-force in March and April of 2020, and hundreds of people were dying every day, I basically went into hiding. My illusion of health and security was shattered: suddenly I found myself in the over-65 “demographic of death.” For over a month, I stayed close to home and avoided contact with other people as much as I could. In those terrifying early days, with so little accurate information available about the disease, everyone and everything was potentially life-threatening.
By late April, when the Covid situation seemed a little better, my passion for documenting the city took hold again. I started venturing out with my old cameras and black and white film to capture the “new reality” of life here. I began by photographing in my part of town, the Upper West Side of Manhattan, to show how it was dealing with lockdowns and closures. Later, I expanded my orbit to about a 30-block area from my apartment, and made several trips by taxi to midtown. Photographing during the pandemic made me braver: I would ask people – from six feet away — if I could photograph them in their masks and gloves, and nine out of ten times they would agree.
As 2020 ended, there began to be glimmers of hope for the future. Effective vaccines had been approved and would soon become available; the new administration in Washington promised to prioritize dealing with the pandemic. However, the sense of relief that the vaccines brought was short-lived, as one variant of the virus followed after another. It doesn’t seem like there will be a return to the Before Times anytime soon.
The majority of these photographs cover the period from the spring of 2020 to the spring/summer of 2021, from the worst of the pandemic to when it seemed like things had finally turned around. My images caught slices of everyday life as I and many others experienced it, during a time of upheaval that affected us all, and that is still evolving.