Nadia Meli

When the Coronavirus news began taking over the world and one country after the other went into lockdown I became more and more paralysed. As my inbox filled up with cancelled shoots and refund requests, my anxiety creeped in. Slowly and silently. I froze. I read of people dying. I am far away from my family. I suddenly felt the weight of being and living alone. I saw people online offering their gifts and talents to the world and I felt useless, empty and uninspired.

As a photographer I could not bare the thought of not photographing people for the next three (?) months. It almost physically hurts imagining that.
Talking to my photography friends they were all feeling the same way. It’s funny to have a job you can’t imagine not doing. I feel so lucky.

Three weeks ago my client Martina was supposed to come to England for her photoshoot. Then Italy went into lockdown. So she asked me if we could shoot online instead? I thought of the virtual shoot Peter Lindbergh did with Jacinda Ardern last year. And my brain started thinking in colour again.

Of course. Why not shoot anyway?

My friend Aga asked me why I am doing this.
I am not sure I have one simple answer. I suppose there are a few layers to it. The topic of loneliness and belonging has always been a red thread running through my life. Being born an immigrant I never felt either or. Never felt really at home anywhere. I’ve always felt ‘alone together’ in rooms with other people, in countries and places I’ve lived, in communities I was a part of. With others – but on the fringes.
Now, along with all the world I find myself again, alone but together. Disconnected but connected.

The distance we are experiencing now is mostly physical, yet there are many for whom the physical distance now adds even more weight to their inner, very real loneliness.

For some, life has not changed that drastically. For others, everything is different. Despite everyone’s circumstances, I feel like this pandemic is a great equaliser: life has slowed down for all of us. It fascinates me that we are globally going through this at the same time and I am curious how people live right now and how they are feeling.

There is also the simple fact that I love photography and I refuse to live without it. I love meeting people and hearing the story of what moves them. What scares them and what excites them. Photography for me is a door. This project is, at the end of the day, a door.
I am lucky when people let me in – be it for 5 minutes or an hour – and a connection is born.

In this time we feel both, light and dark very strongly. As uncertain, surreal and scary this might be we cannot deny the positives. So I asked everyone I get to photograph two questions: if they are scared of anything right now and where they find joy in this time.

Keywords:

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Life in the time of Coronavirus

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