We are living through our generation’s greatest tragedy, a major historical event that will change life as we know it in countless and unexpected ways. It’s imperative that we document, remember, and pay attention to our daily lives during the Covid-19 pandemic and quarantine, realizing that each of us offers a valuable record and our experiences may offer proof against those depicted in mainstream media or claimed by government officials. For those of us who are artists, it’s more important than ever that we use our skills, share our stories, and express ourselves authentically—not because our quarantine downtime is an obligation to be super-productive, but because our experiences are valid and there are opportunities for others to learn from them, right now and in the future.
Under quarantine, we are bombarded by terrifying questions every day and there are few answers on the horizon. We are stuck at home, many of us alone, and we are suffering from fear, sickness, sudden poverty, and a lack of medical and health resources. We look to the news each day, and it is always dire. In many cases, the news is designed to convince us to read more news and the downward spiral is not good for our mental health. My phone reports that my average screen time is up 40% from usual, and I suspect my blood pressure is, too. Between frequent text messaging to friends across the country, scanning Twitter for the real conditions inside hospitals, struggling with home schooling, missing Zoom calls for work, and stressing out over grocery store shortages, it is difficult to achieve moments of clarity, beauty, and much-needed quiet.
Personally, I am finding some solace in my Instagram feed. Scrolling through the recent updates of the artists and photographers I regularly follow is a high point of my day, and now their work has taken on a greater urgency. Not only are these images expertly made, but the Baltimore city scenes, everyday depictions of families and inhabitants, and imaginative visions they create give me hope and make me feel less isolated.
After consulting with some of my favorite collaborators, I compiled this list of 15 Baltimore-based photographers, many of whom are regularly documenting their daily lives and posting to Instagram, forming an essential record as it unfolds during this global pandemic. Many of these individuals are recording the most significant historical event of our time with sensitivity and precision, while others are presenting a much-needed escape from reality and a reminder that beauty’s power is persistent. Either way, they offer us a connection to our city and community that we are all crucially missing during these weeks in quarantine.