Like the rest of us, Shutterstock staff photographer Stephen Lovekin has been social distancing with his family and attempting to navigate this new normal that the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused. With families hunkered down at home throughout his Ditmas Park neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, Stephen took his love of portraits to a level fitting of this scary and isolating period. His goal? To showcase these people's feelings, any messages they want to share with the world, and hopefully inject some hope into this unprecedented time.
"As a photographer I have always loved and been drawn to shooting portraits — a process that allows a connection to be made between photographer, subject, and viewer," Stephen told POPSUGAR in an email, adding that he felt compelled to document his neighborhood once the spread of COVID-19 sent everyone into self-isolation. His most recent subjects have been finding him through social media, and Stephen, who protects himself by wearing a mask and gloves, takes the photos from at least 12 feet away. "The subjects either greet me at their door while I am at the sidewalk or through a window . . . We pick a window and the whole thing takes a couple minutes," he added.
"When beginning the project I hadn't completely settled on the idea of photographing everyone behind a window. Some people would come on their porches or stoops, but that just didn't feel right to me for some reason," he said. "As the project began to evolve, the idea of the window started to make more sense. The window being something that we look out on the world from. Something that literally frames how people can look in on us and how we look out at the world. Something that we normally do not enter or exit from."
"I hope that in this time of chaos and uncertainty this project will help people feel more connected even though we are all literally separated from one another."
The project, which Stephen started in mid March, has already gotten a more positive reaction on his social media than any of his previous work.
"My plan is to have it be an ongoing project for as long as I can safely make it possible," he said. "I hope that in this time of chaos and uncertainty this project will help people feel more connected to the outside world even though we are all literally separated from one another for an unknown amount of time. If we continue to communicate and connect with those around us in a direct, honest, and positive way [we] can get through this together. It will not be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever really is. Stay safe and stay at home! And as my own children's sign said, 'Soon we will be together.'"
See some of Stephen's stunning portraits below.