I have never been forced to turn the camera toward myself until a worldwide pandemic stopped the world from spinning. It was a hard year, my own mental health was not in a good place for much of it. It affected my work, my relationships;  I attempted to work through that with my camera. I found very quickly that self reflection is difficult. I ask my subjects to be open and honest with me while my camera is pointed their way, so I am following suit and being open and honest while the camera is turned toward me. Here's what I worked on in 2020.


These photos were shot and submitted during the 2020 Hearst Journalism Awards National Photojournalism Championship where I placed as a finalist. The competition took place in June 2020. 

Sheltering-in-place has been one of the most difficult times of my life. These last few months have been a blur, and I have seen some of the most exciting opportunities for me, my career and my life slip away. I was supposed to leave the country for the first time, I was supposed to have an amazing internship this summer, I was supposed to go to DC to study first amendment law and controversies, I was supposed to do an amazing story about an amazing family battling Spina Bifida, and so much more. Instead, I find myself in a haze, thumbs scrolling for miles, my mental health spiraling, my relationship struggling, my camera collecting dust on a shelf. 

Quarantine has felt timeless, each day and night blur together and so I have decided to refrain from including times or dates.

I lay in bed for a self portrait replicating a typical morning for me at my home in Bowling Green, Ky. I stay in bed most days until at least 2 or 3 in the afternoon, switching between Twitter, Instagram and TikTok for hours. I refresh my feeds over and over to watch life happen outside the walls of my home without me. My boyfriend, whom I live with, is an essential worker, a vet tech at our local humane society, so I am left home alone throughout the day with only our pets and my own thoughts to keep me company.

Brandon Taylor, my boyfriend, cries in our living room during a fight with me. He and I have been together since Oct. 2018 and have scarcely spent a night apart. Moving in together at the beginning of this year seemed like a natural, if scary, next step. We'd been living together for barely a month when shelter-in-place was initiated. He went to work, I stayed home and he was close to my only human interaction for weeks. His life hardly changed when the virus hit but everything changed for me. We fight more frequently now than we ever have, COVID-19 and living together has revealed issues in ourselves and our relationship that neither of us realized were there.

Dishes pile up and Brandon often just does them for me. I have never been a very clean and organized person, one of the things we fight about most. When left by myself with nothing to do or look forward to, I revert into a laziness and tiredness that makes even daily tasks difficult. 

The first weeks were the hardest. As the sun peeks through windows and the air warms, I find myself more apt to get up and do things, like wash my hair or go outside for a walk.

My best friends, from front to back, Georgia Hoffman, Arinda Davis, Maggie Hoffman and Katie Greene tan in my backyard.  For the first time in years, our schedules line up because we have no schedules. I have grown closer to them than I ever have been.

Ryan Murphy, Brandon's best friend, shoots during a game of pool. Quarantine gave us the chance to put together the old pool table that had been in pieces in our basement. The pool table has led to weekly pool tournaments with some of our best friends. Pool nights have been so important because they give each of us something to look forward to each week, a moment of togetherness that has been taken from us in our daily lives. My house has become the place where we all congregate, drink and goof off; the place where we don't have to think of COVID-19 or wear masks.

Brandon and I apologize to each other after a fight. Living with a significant other for the first time during this time has been difficult in ways I could have never imagined. We have reached new levels of intimacy and new levels of annoyance. We each have issues to work through and we are learning how to do that together while also learning to live in a new world.

The Best Damn Thing

Upon reflection of our relationship throughout the pandemic, Brandon and I talk about what went wrong, and what went right. In a small video created for my final video class in the WKU Photojournalism program, we are both made to talk about what it has been like living together through one of the most historic times in our lives. 

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