by Aliyah Newman
(This photo series originally appeared on the South End Stories youth blog.)
In March/April, I started a small photography project to capture some friends and mutuals during their own quarantines. I wanted to get an outside-in perspective and started out photographing by standing outside of their windows, looking in. But as you’ll notice, the perspectives change throughout different participants. Some pictures ended up being taken through FaceTime; some were taken on friends’ porches as I sat in their yard to catch up and talk; and some were strictly taken from behind the glass.
I also gave prompts for what I wanted the participants to wear. To me, clothing plays a really important role in how we express ourselves even when confined to our own house or room. Even if we are the only ones to know what clothes we have on, clothing can change our energy. My prompts ranged from asking participants to wear their “everyday” quarantine outfits to something out of their comfort zone, or something they wished they could wear if they weren’t stuck in the house, etc. I have chosen not to share what prompt goes with each picture because I think it was more for the participants than for an audience.
I chose to include two shoots of the four that I had with Nala, and I think the colors of her clothing played a big part. We kept the same setting each time I visited, so her different outfits are very noticeable and beautiful. One day while talking about what she chose to wear, Nala said:
“I wore this because it just seemed really exciting to me. I don’t know if I would ever just wear a scarf that I created into a shirt at school, so I figured I would just wear it . . . I was like, let’s do this.”
Chapel stayed inside and behind her window in the first shoot only. My other trips to Chapel’s house for this project quickly shifted from her posing inside to us socially distanced on her front doorstep (so that we could fill up the majority of our time just talking). Chapel said about her clothing:
“Originally I was going to do blue, but blue just did not feel right to me. This pink slip was in my drawer and five minutes before Aliyah got here I decided to change. I’ve always really liked pink, I think pink is a really feminine color, and I just love it.”
My favorite part about taking pictures at Annie’s house was the nature reflected on her windows and how it mixed with the powerful look on her face. It was the middle of springtime and the weather was changing everyday. During her shoot, Annie said:
“I feel great. I have a lot of black-on-black clothing and it just fits together.”
My shoots with Rusha took form in different and more varied ways than anyone else’s. Our first shoot or two were in her garden with the same camera. But for the other shoots I used my film camera, my phone on FaceTime, and also took pictures of my computer while calling with her. Rusha lived the farthest away from me, so we used creative ways to get similar outcomes to other subjects.
Kiley and Bailey
“Doing colorful makeup and wearing eyeliner recently throughout quarantine, I’ve learned that I really enjoy that. I like the artsy makeup.” —Bailey
“Wearing just a short-sleeved T-shirt may not be something that other people get very anxious or self conscious about, but for somebody that avoids cameras and doesn’t really like showing their skin, it’s a big improvement.” —Kiley
These quotes came about while I was talking to Kiley and Bailey on their porch (pictured below). I talk about fashion and makeup often with them and the changes that isolation has brought in aesthetic and culture towards these things has been something we can’t ignore.
My name is Aliyah Newman. I recently graduated from Cleveland High School and I am an incoming freshman at The New School in New York City. I do curriculum creation and blog work for South End Stories, but I also love fashion and photography. I have done education work in Seattle through Planned Parenthood and I am so excited to do more through South End Stories as well.
All photos by Aliyah Newman.