funny thing happened when the whole world stayed home.
TV commercials showed more family-at-home imagery, and newspapers featured thoughtful articles exploring the need for flexible work hours; multifunctional office/living spaces; and how to work around children’s needs. It seemed that requiring the majority of people to be in their homes resulted in a far deeper interest in what happens at home.
In my own field of photography, I noticed prominent media outlets publish beautiful photo essays by photographers suddenly “grounded” by the pandemic from their go-where-things-happen assignments, and turning now to their children for a creative outlet, curious tourists in a strange country.
But the fact is, many talented photographers have explored caregiving in their work long before a pandemic forced them to stay at home. Mostly women, these photographers make images every bit as compelling as the best travel or conflict photography we see so often in magazines and newspapers. I was reminded that domestic space remains undervalued because it is primarily occupied by women and children.
Whether it is women who’ve chosen a life as both artist and caregiver, or men who have chosen to take a primary role in caregiving work, these photographers have elected to create photography in the trenches of caregiving. Because they live it, they document it with a deep understanding of its rhythms, demands and complexities.
As with all other aspects of caregiving work, the art made within its confines deserves greater recognition.
While other photographers have gained careers and awards by visiting, agile and fleet-footed, the whole surface of the globe, the photographers in this photo essay–measuring their pace to match the toddler, the elder, the infirm–dig deep into the intimate territory of home, pushing their creativity and stamina, immersive documentarians in domestic space.