Portraits document social distancing

Kristyna Hessovar has been taking portraits of people in isolation. Photo by Damjan Janevski.

Benjamin Millar

A Kingsville photographer is putting the human face on the social isolation being forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strict social distancing rules have all but ended work commissions for professional photographer Kristyna Hessova, but the creative urge and desire to keep the community connected have sparked the idea for a new series capturing people living in virtual lockdown.

Hessova put out a call for people to take part in her ‘Lockdown Portraits’ photo series and was quickly inundated with requests.

“I love taking photos, I am doing it for myself as much as anyone else, just to keep sane,” she said.

Each session takes about 20 minutes and is conducted from a safe distance, with Hessova shooting the portraits from over the fence so as keep a safe distance from her subjects.

“I want to make it very documentary and truthful so I’m prepared for any kind of response on the shoot,” she said.

“If you don’t feel like smiling you don’t have to, but if you wan’t to that’s OK too.

“I’ve got a lot of people lined up, people are keen to share their stories, so it’s been a happy 20 minutes so far.”

Hessova said the social restrictions, shortage of staple items, job losses and other impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are all challenging, but she has also seen some good emerge from the crisis.

“It’s making us all go back down to basics and it just pushes people to stop and think,” she said.

“It’s a scary place for most of us I would say, but a lot of people around me – and we live in a beautiful bubble in this hood – are checking in on other.

“We are all doing what we love doing, a lot of people are baking breads and making jams, and that’s what i’m doing with my photography.”

Hessova’s ‘Lockdown Portraits’ series can be viewed via facebook.com/LockdownPortraits and instagram.com/lockdown_portraits