This project began during a period of unwanted and unexpected isolation, brought on by the COVID-19 Pandemic. With all photographic work at a sudden standstill, we began with self-portraits as a way to wrestle with our own anxiety and preserve an unprecedented time in history.
As photographers that is how we naturally respond to things. We photograph them, if only to have a record of their existence. We then moved outward, contacting friends, family, neighbors, using Craigslist. We sought all ages, economic groups, races, genders, and sexual orientations. For the pandemic became a strangely unifying experience, regardless of who you were or what you believed, we were all isolated together. The project revealed a shared humanity, as we explored conditions of aloneness as proof of belonging.
Inspired by Edward Hopper, the narratives appear as if stills for a movie or tableaux in a play. Yet, though crafted, our work is informed by our photojournalistic roots and is documentary at its core. Each image is a retelling of a person’s story inspired by how they were feeling, how life had changed and what they were doing to cope (or not cope) during the COVID lockdown. To the viewer it is as if you have happened upon a scene, a series of uneasy moments marked by a vague feeling that something is not quite right.
During the time while our world was closed, we documented rage, laughter, tears, joy, and fear, sometimes all in a single session. The challenge was to create intimacy from a distance, which is a question we all will be asking for years to come. So we pushed on, looking for connection. As photographers we crave it, it is the reason why we do what we do. To see how people live, see how they survive and to help them feel seen and heard. Even when, especially when, we are in isolation.
Leah Nash (The Nash) and Christopher Onstott (The CO) are an award-winning photography & videography duo that specialize in portraiture and lifestyle imagery. They call their style ‘crafted reality,’ and basically it means….they make real people look cool. Both originally photojournalists, Leah and Chris take a moment-driven approach, capturing authentic imagery whether in life, at work, or on set. The result is graphic, storytelling photography that is full of color, light and intimacy. Their goal is to leave their subjects a little bit better than they found them. Clients include Apple, Chase Bank, Marriott, National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times, Rolling Stone and Mother Jones. Awards Include Critical Mass Top 50, American Photography Selected Winner, PDN Photo Annual, NPPA Pictures of the Year, Pictures of the Year International. [NashCoPhoto.com] [LeahNash.com]