This concept came to me on one of my evening runs. As I drifted through the now silent and deserted streets of my neighborhood I could feel the energy radiating from within these homes.
The homes were full and the streets were empty. I felt so empathetic to the loneliness and feeling of isolation but also the intimate closeness of those from within. As a Navy veteran and having done my time out to sea on a war ship for months at a time I knew what they were experiencing emotionally. I understand and am empathic to how intense this must be for everyone right now. Thinking of my neighbors across the street, I realized how beautiful it would be to gift them with their first ever family portrait sitting and capture this historical moment in time. Including their home and telling the story of who they are within their walls is such a rich visual story. I welled with emotion as I ran further and the concept raced through my mind. Shortly after that evening I began the project.
During the first shoot I could feel a beautiful and powerful connection through my lens right away and in that moment I knew this was going to be a very fulfilling body of work. With each household I wanted to capture their spirt and who they are within the confines of their home. Our homes are our shelter, our protection, our prison, and our havens—we all can feel seen in these images. Peering through the illuminated window of a home is quite a taboo act, however when we are invited in to gaze and feel their love we are now feeling loved and gazed upon. As a photographer I open myself to my subject and they in turn open themselves to me…we are both vulnerable and sharing a piece of our soul. This is a powerful and scary chapter in all of our lives, I want people to know they are not alone no matter how isolated they feel.
Most of the families in the series are people I know or were connected by word of mouth. I want to capture this moment of time using my own style of environmental portraiture. The Shelter in Place quarantine affects all households, all walks of life, it is everyone! In this historic event, we are together yet alone. I hope this project brings a feeling of intimate connectedness and acceptance. The outpouring of emotion in response to these image has been immense. One month into this project it is still in it’s infancy, as I work on these images I would love to add poetry to this as I have done in some of my other collections.
I am so grateful for your time and covering this collection that is so intimate to me and those depicted within.
// Photography by Rachelle Steele.