BY LILIA SCIARETTI, CONTRIBUTOR
Human touch and human connection. We crave it. We long for it, and as of late, we didn’t know how much we would miss it until it was gone; restricted.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many creatives (including myself) had to stop working for a while, as much of our work involved the art of human interaction. As a photographer, I value the hugs and handshakes I share with my clients who often turn into friends. I cherish the small moments, such as the movement of the client’s hair because it wasn’t laying right, or the high-fives we exchange as I show them the raw image on the back of my camera, hyping them up for their effortless modeling skills. This physical human connection is something I am grateful to experience, as I’m able to meet and work with so many incredible people each day.
Connecting with people is my favorite thing about my job, so much so that doesn’t feel like a job at all. With each person I connect with I learn what drives them, how they met the love of their life or why they prefer jam to butter on their toast. The people I “work” with inspire me. Whatever the conversation may be, no matter the quality or quantity, I hold on to it. I cherish it. The fact that they felt vulnerable enough to open up to a girl like me means more than they will ever know.
I was bummed that I am not able to physically connect with people for quite some time, but COVID-19 didn’t stop me from creating.
When quarantine set in, I moved from my claustrophobic apartment to my parents’ home. Luckily for me, being the oldest of six kids gave me plenty of models to work with and the guilty pleasure of telling my siblings what to do. I photographed my brothers and sisters nearly every day. My days became a whirlwind of directing them around various locations in the house.“John Anthony, come stand in this light in the stairwell. It’s perfect.” “Gina, sit here. I’m going to drape this floral sheet behind you.” “Julia, let’s put vaseline on my lens and see what happens.” Surprisingly, they enjoyed modeling for me, but they got over it pretty quickly (maybe because we hadn’t left the house for three weeks at this point).
To keep my sanity as an extrovert, I knew I needed to be interacting with individuals other than my family. I needed more. I needed the human connection back. So, I began to do some research and see what other artists were up to. Like me, many of them were posting old content in an attempt to keep their Instagram presence afloat. Others were offering porch sessions, in which they would photograph families on their front porches. While I adored this idea, I wanted to push myself to my creative brink. That’s when I came across the #FaceTimePhotoshoot hashtag.
As I scrolled through the hashtag, hundreds of photographers were doing something I had never seen done before. I became instantly obsessed with the idea. I called my friend Kirstyn, told her to throw on minimal makeup, change out of the clothes she’d been wearing for several days now and FaceTime me. Throughout the hashtag, I saw many people simply screenshotting or taking live photos through the app, but I wanted to give it my own touch. So, I set up FaceTime on my laptop and shot her on my camera. The results were exactly what I envisioned and then some.
I quickly posted them on Instagram and marketed sessions for $40. People were attracted to the idea, and the price point solidified their fascination. I began shooting friends, couples and newly-weds.
Luckily for me, I was able to be blunt with Kirstyn when things weren’t working mechanically. The screen between us wasn’t too much of an issue. It was only when I switched from friend to acquaintance that the digital barrier began to challenge my creativity. Poor internet connection and overexposure served as creative obstacles and sometimes caused an uncomfortable space until we finally were able to conquer the technical. FaceTime photoshoots taught me patience and to take a step back and truly appreciate what I was practicing. It resulted in learning how to slow down the art of photography altogether.
As the world began to slowly open back up, a close photography colleague of mine asked me to come into his home and photograph his family in their quarantine routine. I immediately agreed and arrived at their home the following week, spending the morning photographing them in their space.
Unexpectedly, my creative juices were flowing during quarantine. I am very grateful for it, as I created more during this time than ever before. I was forced to create a routine for myself, and I decided to make photography a major part of it.
Now that friends are giving hugs and joining hands once again (with masks on of course), many of us can agree this time apart has made us appreciate the art of human touch and connection more than ever before. For me, quarantine has made me miss the small, intimate moments I was able to share with people on a digital platform. Although quarantine had such a negative connotation, I will forever appreciate how this time pushed me to grow creatively.