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Mask Smile: Photographers, Videographers Capture Life During COVID-19 Pandemic

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The spread of coronavirus has left many of New York's busiest streets virtually empty and videographers and photographers alike are setting out to capture this new world through their lenses.

Photos and videos of life during COVID-19 will be looked back at for many years to come and that's why photographer Johnnie Izquierdo is determined to document everything going on.

"For me, being a part of history I think was really important,"said Izquierdo in an interview with CBS2's Natalie Duddridge. "Not only to showcase that message, but to have this catalogue."


Like Izquierdo, photographer Laura Fuchs believes images can help fill in the gap for people who are isolated right now from friends and family.

"I guess I felt a certain need to fill a void for human connection," said Fuchs. "I noticed that everybody's heads were down. Very few people were looking at each other. That's not the New York that I know."

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Since the beginning of the outbreak, Fuchs has been snapping hundreds of pictures of New Yorkers and their expressions behind their masks. Her project for this photo series is fittingly called "Mask Smile."

"People understand the project right away. Like, wow, that's true, we really can smile with our masks on and we can still feel connected because we are all in this together."

Other photojournalists like Alison Wright are getting used to spending an extended amount of time at home. Wright is a documentary photographer who travels the world to take pictures in conflict zones for publications like National Geographic. In just a matter of a few months, her backyard of New York has become the epicenter of a conflict of its own against coronavirus.

"Even just taking a picture of the girl handing me my CVS package yesterday. I photographed her because she's in a mask and gloves behind [thick plastic]," said Wright. "It's a moment in time where I was just buying shampoo. I felt like I was buying a radioactive device. I do feel sort of like a visual anthropologist."

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Like Wright, photographer Marcus Smith is another artist who has had to pivot to something else during the pandemic. Smith usually shoots athletes for big sports brands like Nike and Adidas. He's now doing photoshoots through his phone.

"We set up a video call like we're on right now," said Smith. "Judging the light, judging the exposure, and then we just press the shutter button in the app to take a picture. Nothing can stop a person from creating except the fear of failure."

And failure is not the image these photographers are capturing. Instead, it's strength, and smiles behind the masks.

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