A Still Life – Pandemic Landscapes

Emptied cities, skies, airports, stadiums, deserted parking lots, roads, schools, workplaces…
2020, a year where our world stood still, holding its breath and bracing for challenges unknown to the modern, developed world. This photo series is a visual story of human environments, but distanced from the personal and dramatic demise which the pandemic has caused to so many. Let this selection bear silent witness to the changes that have affected us all during the course of the past year.
These photographs were taken from a small airplane – whilst crossing the continent during the early months of the pandemic – and supplemented by images from areas close to the author’s home.
As the pandemic persists, this series will grow. Will the world ever get back to normal? And what is to be the new normal?

Dormant JFK Airport

New York, New York

An unusually silent JFK airport during the peak of COVID-19 crisis (May 2020). Over the course of this shoot, no movement was observed when just a few months earlier this was the usual beehive of activity. A thick cloud layer had started moving in over the airport, and its sharp boundary revealed the unique partial sun / partial shade lighting conditions.

Desert Hiatus

Victorville, California

Mojave’s Victorville Airport serves as an intermediate storage for Delta Airlines during the pandemic (May 2020). This airport is usually used as a last stop for various large aircraft when taken out of service, its convenient location, long runways, dry climate and qualified ground support make it an excellent place for the unemployed aircraft.

United They Stand

Roswell, New Mexico

United Airlines chose Roswell, New Mexico for their intermediate storage base. Pictured here, on May 2020, is a family of their smaller fleet – the Airbus 319. As pandemic travel restrictions have relaxed by the end of the year, those small airliners saw the quickest return to service, due to their smaller cabins and relatively inexpensive operating cost as compared to their larger siblings.

Social Distancing

Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn’s Domino Park’s visitors adhere to social distancing guidelines while enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon (June 2020). With pleasant temperatures in New York City, people slowly started getting used to their new reality and ventured in search of fresh air. This photograph was taken from an altitude of around 8,000 feet, to avoid the tightly controlled airspace covering New York City.

The Longest School Break

Wildomar, California

Elsinore High School in Wildomar, California (May 2020) remains closed since March, the beginning of the pandemic . As education and learning ventured into the virtual realm, posing overwhelming challenges to infrastructure, educators, students, and their parents, what will be the effects of such a paradigm shift on a generation’s development and learning?

Disneyland, Frozen in Time

Anaheim, California

One of the most striking images from above are the massive, empty parking lots. Disneyland – California’s biggest and most famous amusement park remains shuttered (May 2020), as automobile loving Californians are ordered to stay home and entertainment venues remain closed. This particular location offers a glimpse of hope: starting late January 2021, it is going to be used as one of the first vaccination mega-sites, serving the residents of Orange County.

The Season of Empty Seats

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia Eagles host the New Orleans Saints at an empty Lincoln Financial stadium in Philadelphia (November 2020). Sports has experienced a big shift due to COVID-19 – canceled games, leagues, and complete seasons. The NFL – pictured here – managed to play its complete season, despite all the disturbances and challenges that the pandemic brought. (The home team won this game)

New York City, sans Tourists

New York, New York

Empty Times Square as COVID-19 severely affects New York City’s tourism industry (October 2020). A record-setting 65 million tourists visited NYC in 2019. Overnight, the situation drastically transformed. For a city that also heavily depends on visitors from all around the globe, this change has been felt especially hard throughout the many supporting industries.

The Wail of the Sirens

New Haven, Connecticut

During the early weeks of the pandemic, when then-new and unnatural silence of the city was constantly interrupted by the sound of ambulances, it was hard not to be afraid.

Black Lives Matter

Staten Island, New York

Not only a year of a global pause, 2020 was was also a year of a massive movement. As protests against inequality and police brutality continued for weeks, they had their culminating moment on June 19, 2020. Spontaneous, yet well-organized protests had been popping up everywhere around all of the boroughs, in a peaceful atmosphere, and with joy in hope and expectation of changes to come. An important date in American history, the Day of Liberation is also commonly referred to as ‘Juneteenth.’ And as long as Google spell check still finds this word as an error, we have more work to do.” Staten Island’s Ferry Terminal is the host to this community-made Black Lives Matter mural

Supply Chain Bottlenecks

Port of Los Angeles, California

Large cargo ships holding before entry to Port of LA (February 2021). The cost of shipping a container of goods has tripled over the past year, according to the Freightos Baltic Index. The increase reflects dramatic shifts in consumption during the pandemic, as consumers redirect money they once spent at restaurants or movie theaters to the purchase of various goods. Such a drastic change to spending habits has put the finely tuned global supply-demand engine out of balance.

Disrupted Commerce

Port of Newark, New Jersey

Port of Newark new car parking lot at near capacity, as the pandemic disrupts the supply chain in the early months of the pandemic (July 2020).

The Race to Vaccinate

LA Dodgers Stadium, California

Drivers wait in line to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at Dodgers Stadium parking lot, downtown LA (February 2021). One of the largest Points of Distribution (PoD) in the country is capable of administering 12,000 vaccines per day and – as the vaccine supply becomes more steady – it remains busy serving the residents of Los Angeles.

A Silent World

Paterson, New Jersey

The pandemic continues to write its story (December 2020): the nation’s COVID-19 death toll nears 350,000 as we enter an uncertain 2021. What will this new year bring? Hope and recovery? Or acceptance and adaptation to the only constant, change?
Soon, spring’s warming sun rays will lead us out of the cold, dark, lonesome days. As we enter a new cycle of life, what will we have learned?

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