We Asked 10 Photographers To Visualize Joy In Quarantine

Joy. It's probably not the first word that comes to mind when you consider time spent at home over the past few weeks. But that doesn't mean there isn't room for it alongside more immediately fitting descriptors like discomfort, confusion, boredom, and fear. If you're struggling to find it, take a moment to hug a family member, roommate, or pet. Have a nice long gaze out the window. Make a favorite snack. And then scroll through this collection of colorful images from ten photographers working at home during the pandemic.
For this series, we tasked them with depicting joy in quarantine. Not an easy ask, but one that inspired a diverse array of images that are almost certain to spark the elusive emotion in all who gaze upon them. From an epic collection of candles shaped like beer, cheese, flowers, and a weirdly realistic cat head (you'll see) to seashells and the blank page to a prismatic bubble big enough to stick your face in, joy takes on a range of different forms here, reminding us that there's no one-size-fits-all solution to happiness. And that sometimes, all it takes is a new perspective. Or ten.
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Photographed by Alistair Matthews

Alistar Matthews

Photo description:
I think I’ve been able to stave off deep depression or extreme restlessness by equipping my house with things that make me feel happy and cozy. Things like a hunk of meat I cook to infuse my home with its comforting smell, a sweater/sock combo that feels like a snuggle, or a candle, whose warm glow makes me feel safe and content. I wanted to try and create a scene that captures that feeling of happiness like a party with old friends, while also highlighting a few of my favorite candles that have shown me the light in this dark time. Also wouldn’t this picture make a great quarantine puzzle?!
What brings you joy during your day?
Pretty much the same as everyone else, baking bread, watching True Crime shows, video chats, Instagram, my cat — not necessarily in that order.
Where did you make this photograph?
My studio! Luckily it’s a short walk from my house and my mom mailed me a 1-gallon jug of hand sanitizer which I use liberally.
Who are your collaborators?
It’s just me!
How do you share joy with others?
By creating Jello how-to videos on Instagram, sharing my archive of anecdotes with friends, and of course my absolutely adorable smile.
When you can’t seem to find joy, how do you create spaces or opportunities to invite joy in?
Looking at before and after pictures of big cities’ cleaner air.
How are you staying creative and positive in this time?
By telling myself it’s okay to not be creative or positive in this time.
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Photographed by Phebe Schmidt
Photographed by Phebe Schmidt
Phebe Schmidt
Photo description:
The character enacts an imaginary 'every day' at home workout in isolation, a performance that reveals an aspirational portrayal of an idealized self. The work examines concepts of selfhood — seeking to make visible the gaps between image/brand and nebulous concepts of "reality" and “authenticity”. Through the use of a highly constructed and uncanny visual aesthetic that is not bound by time and place, a fictional space is created that blurs the line between the real and the unreal. This theatrical space explores and unpacks the familiar within a “real-world imaginary” together with a character who is trying to visualize who they are and want to be.  
What brings you joy during your day? 
Exercise. It has kept me sane during this time to take time out of my day to workout. That being said my feed is packed with at-home workouts often featuring: dumbbells, lentil cans, and rogue household objects. I wanted to do my own take on an ‘at home’ workout. For this work, I had a vision of this character all dolled up for their daily exercise routine. Similar to previous work I wanted to explore concepts of selfhood — seeking to make visible the gaps between image/brand and nebulous concepts of "reality" and “authenticity”.
Where did you make these photographs? Where are you currently? 
I made this work in my photography studio. I’m currently living in Melbourne, Australia.  
Who are your collaborators?
We are practicing isolation and social distancing here in Melbourne, therefore it was a super small team on this project. Jade Florence (@jadeflorencephoto), downright angel who shares my studio space, helped me with my make up, dressing me, cutting stray wig hairs and shooting, not the smallest feat when the subject isn’t super used to being in front of the camera. Hailey Moroney who also shares the studio warehouse space (@bedfordstreetshop) supplied the top-notch wardrobe.
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How do you share joy with others? 
Endless Facebook video calls until the filters become too distracting.
When you can't seem to find joy, how do you create space or opportunity for it? 
I go for a walk or exercise to try and reset. I also try to recognize that some days will not feel as joyful as others and that’s okay.  
How are you staying creative and positive in this time? 
I’m focussing on what I can control. Finishing old projects that have been on the back burner for some time and planning new ones.
Photographed by Aileen Son
Aileen Son
Photo description:
Feeling a little helpless, I found myself starting on a small quilt from some scraps I had at my studio. Sewing together the small pieces of fabric, one at a time, is so gratifying. I think because the majority of my work is done digitally, creating a tangible object has helped me gain the tiniest sense of control in coping with the mounting anxiety of this whole situation. Seeing this piece closer to being finished brings me some joy. I photographed it at my small studio space here in San Francisco that I thankfully still have access to.
What brings you joy during your day?
Taking my time to complete a mundane task. It sounds boring, but I am enjoying that I now have the time to work on projects that have always been on the back burner.
Where did you make this photograph?
I fortunately still have access to my little studio space here in San Francisco.
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Who are your collaborators?
At the moment, it's just me! I'd say my biggest collaborators are prop stylists and I miss them big time.
How do you share joy with others?
Similar to my love language, it's probably through acts of service. I share my joy by making things like masks or meals for other people.
When you can’t seem to find joy, how do you create spaces or opportunities in order to invite joy in?
I try to take a step back… and forward? Usually a slow walk with my partner gives me the space and scenery to not dwell on anything negative.
How are you staying creative and positive during this time?
Again, I try not to dwell on anything negative more than anything. Having a small routine helps and connecting with friends definitely gives me the positivity boosts needed to get through the day.
Photographed by Djeneba Aduayom
Djeneba Aduayom
Photo description:
This image is a recurring theme in my work. I feel that it is very relevant right now with feeling trapped emotionally and physically.
What brings you joy during your day?
Thankfully, I can find joy in all kinds of things. Creatively speaking, Mother Nature is a great source of inspiration for me all the time, music, yoga. My go-to for joy at the moment is to create self-portrait images that reflect my various states of mind. This keeps me busy and puts me in a positive and constructive mood. Humanly speaking, I have more contact with my friends scattered all over the globe, and checking in with people to make sure they are okay
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Where did you make this photograph?
Since we are respecting the guidelines, this photograph was made at home. We are lucky to have an outdoor space.
Who are your collaborators?
I enlisted the help of my husband to help me for this one!
How do you share joy with others?
My best way to share joy is through images. Otherwise, when I see on social media or if I speak to anyone that feels down, then I always try to be helpful and let them know I am here if they need and I share positive thoughts, ideas with them to lift them up as best as I can! 
When you can't seem to find joy, how do you create spaces or opportunities to invite joy in?
Dreams, hope, and positivity are essential! When I feel overwhelmed, I escape mentally by creating otherworldly places in my head. I find it’s easier for me at times to invite positivity in by listening to music or by taking yoga. 
How are you staying creative and positive during this time?
Creativity is a lifetime thing for me, it doesn’t matter what art form. It is one of the very things I can’t live without. Being physically unable to roam around on locations to shoot, means I have to invent some locations. This keeps me quite busy because it is one thing to be creative and have a team and a location, but now I have to learn how to not have any of these. I have to reinvent myself to be in the picture as well as the creator of it. And the positivity comes from creating images that might make people dream or evade this reality we live in, even if for a brief moment. To get through this and go forward, we all need to keep hope in some way shape or form and keep dreaming.
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Photographed by Cassidy Turner
Cassidy Turner
Photo description:
Throughout my life, I’ve always collected shells and sea glass at every beach I go to. I grew up in California, so beachcombing was a frequent activity in my family (my mom has the best collection of all time). In this photograph, I selected a few of my favorite shells, sea glass, tile pieces, and other found objects. Looking at them brings me comfort and reminds me of home.
What brings you joy during your day?
It can be hard to feel happy or joyful lately, so I've been focusing on doing things that make me feel calm and relaxed. I've been trying to teach myself how to draw by doodling a different object every day. It's not something I would have normally done with my free time and it feels nice to do an activity that is new but non-stressful.
Where did you make this photograph?
Long Island, New York.
How do you share joy with others?
I've been obsessively making playlists and sharing them with friends. It feels meditative in a way and allows my brain to zone out on something tactile. And it reminds me that I will hopefully be listening to music with people in person again at some point!
When you can’t seem to find joy, how do you create spaces or opportunities in order to invite joy in?
I've been trying to check in with friends and family every day. I feel like I've connected with the people in my life on a more personal and honest level than before which is a nice, unexpected silver lining.
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How are you staying creative and positive during this time?
My level of motivation changes daily — sometimes it's simply not there, and I'm trying to be okay with that and remember that I will work on something when it makes me happy to do it.
Photographed by Dana Trippe
Dana Trippe
Photo description:
In these times. as the world has slowed down around us, we all need art more than ever. Not having models or clients has led me to shoot self-portraits again and experiment a bit more with my process. Creating images has always been my outlet for relieving anxiety, and when times get tough, I count my lucky stars that I have the utensils for creation on my side. 
What brings you joy during your day?
Shooting photos, playing around on Photoshop, painting, building props, music. 
Where did you make this photograph?
I have one of those big classic red barns in my backyard that I've converted into a photo studio/wood workshop. 
Who are your collaborators?
My boyfriend built me out this little white box room to shoot in, and my roommate helped me with shooting.
How do you share joy with others?
Creating with others and helping push others to create on their own. 
When you can't seem to find joy, how do you create spaces of opportunity to invite joy in?
I've lost myself plenty of times this month to anxiety and a heavy blanket of melancholy. Sometimes I find joy when I simply relax and accept the slow down of the entire world right now. 
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How are you staying creative and positive during this time?
Starting my morning with yoga, lots of coffee and matcha, podcasts that don't have anything to do with COVID-19, and the sweet company of my boyfriend and Great Dane. 
Photographed by Eva Zar
Photographed by Eva Zar
Eva Zar
Photo description:
Series is called "I remember the sun." These images are self-portraits shot in my bedroom, a space I spent a lot of time in. During quarantine time I had to go through a gynecological procedure that made me stay in bed for a while. The time leading up to the procedure was scary and the time after felt like relief. Shooting my beloved body and playing around with props that remind us of body parts is my way of reflecting and healing mentally. The last time I shot a self-portrait was around this time in 2017 – ironically at an actual artist residency in Marseille, France where I was working by myself as well –  and now it felt right to go back to that place within myself and create new self-portraits.
What brings you joy during your day?
Counting my blessings, checking in on my beautiful family, and remembering that after the rain comes the sunshine.
Where did you take this photograph?
In my bedroom, because stay home.
Who are your collaborators?
The tights are by my friend Simone Wild, who I love collaborating with. The body is me.
How do you share joy with others?
It’s important to support each other and stay positive – trying to spread positive energy and checking in my people has been very joyful. I think during times like these sharing joy and showing compassion goes hand in hand, because you can make the other person feel less alone even when you can’t be with them.
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When you can’t seem to find joy, how do create spaces or opportunity in order to invite joy in?
Something that I’ve been thinking about is acceptance. Accepting that you might not always feel joyful is the most liberating thing I could do for myself. In the first weeks of quarantine, I tried to stay busy and distract myself but the only way to the other side is by going through it and being honest with yourself and your feelings. All these emotions are valid, important, and a shared experience. Allowing myself to feel all of it instead of resisting has helped me to create the safe space I need right now.
How are you staying creative and positive during this time?
Taking the pressure off yourself and giving yourself space to just be, even if that means playing Sudoku, baking banana bread, and taking care of your plants all day (like I did) has helped me to be more productive and creative the next day. I think about this quarantine as if it’s an artist residency where I make the rules and have time and space to (not) create what I want.
Video by Heami Lee
Heami Lee
Photo description:
The video is a short portrait of a simple day with my partner during quarantine. 
What brings you joy during your day?
All the little things... mundane and not. I usually wake up before my partner. I quietly come down the stairs. Start the fire… play some music… have a beverage. She usually has a project she wants to do but if she doesn’t... we take a walk on our land. I follow her… watch her… listen to her. She usually forages some beautifully shaped branches and puts them in different areas of the house. She does this everywhere we are. She places them in different areas for me to find. I’m always surrounded by the things she finds. She knows... I love it.
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Where did you take these photographs?
My partner and I are upstate. We have a house and some land a few hours outside of the city.
How do you share joy with others?
By being a cheeseball. 
When you can't seem to find joy, how do you create space or opportunity for it? 
I was very fortunate to be born positive and genuinely happy. That, in combo with immigrant 'push through' mentality, is bulletproof. That doesn’t mean I don't get knocked down here and there.  It's important to feel and acknowledge all the other mixed emotions we all have. Embracing different emotions allows you to actually realize joy when it happens.
How are you staying creative and positive during this time? 
I was sick for a few years before all of this happened. I learned a lot during that time. Sometimes it's okay not to feel inspired or creative. You gotta keep it real to yourself. Like I said before, feeling what you are feeling and allowing yourself to feel is important. It’s important for yourself as a human and as a creative. All the creative stuff will follow. Practicing something like meditation sure does help. But it should be a habit, on a regular basis, not just during a crisis.
Photographed by Lindsey Wernli
Lindsey Wernli
Photo description:
My contribution is a still life of my guilty pleasures during these extremely strange times. There’s nothing I love more than creating playful compositions with ordinary things, and this image showcases my little joys throughout the day in an amusing and pleasurable way.
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What brings you joy during your day?
I’ve found during this time of isolation that I find joy in in the smaller moments of my everyday; walks with my dog, the trees blooming, morning coffee, comfort food. Accepting the slower pace of things and sort of reverting back to my childhood comforts, whether that be food or old movies, has brought me a lot of pleasure and joy. I’ve been really leaning hard into my indulgences as well; late night bowls of fruit loops, sugary snacks, the occasional joint here and there. These days it just seems there are no rules in not only how we try to find joy, but maintaining sanity, and I’m embracing that.
Where did you take this photograph?
I made this photograph in my house. During quarantine, I turned my dining area into a makeshift studio. It’s tight quarters but it works.
Who are your collaborators?
For this particular image, it was just me working solo, but typically I collaborate often with either Haylie Waring or Alya Hameedi — two very talented Philly based stylists who are always down to get weird.
How do you share joy with others?
I think the best way to share joy with others is by maintaining some sort of human connection. I know for me, checking in on loved ones has been huge in creating and sharing joy. This isn’t an easy time, and everyone has their own stresses and worries, and I think sharing them really helps take that weight off and allows there to be more room for happiness to grow.
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When you can’t seem to find joy, how do create spaces or opportunity in order to invite joy in?
I'm a big believer in setting the mood and physically resetting a space. I light some incense, put some music on, open a window, and see where the joy takes me. Getting out for a walk will also do wonders. I also believe that you have to go with the flow; joy definitely comes in waves and I've had to learn when to recognize its presence and when to just accept that it’s not there and to not force it to happen.
How are you staying creative and positive during this time?
I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been easy, but I feel like taking it one day at a time is extremely important. Being present and not getting too caught up in the past or the future but focusing on the now. Also, gratitude. Reminding yourself of all the things you are grateful for really helps you have the mindset to maintain positivity and when there is openness and happiness, creativity will find its way. Lastly, don’t forget to be silly. I think when I let loose and allow myself the room to make mistakes or experiment, my creativity is much more bound to flourish – that applies during a pandemic or not.
Photographed by Parker Day
Photographed by Parker Day
Photographed by Parker Day
Parker Day
What brings you joy during your day?
Today is day, I don't even know what of lockdown. 24? 26? I'm losing my sense of time. Without the variety and novelty I had before, it's more important than ever to appreciate the small things and experience gratitude for what I do have. That keeps me grounded and away from fretting about the unknown. Laughing with my fiance and playing nerdy board games brings me joy; dancing with my fluffy cat in the kitchen brings me joy; working out and feeling gratitude for the strength and health in my body brings me joy. And on the rare occasion I leave my house, I feel grateful that I have a safe home to return to. 
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Where did you make this photograph?
I made these images at my home in LA using our security cameras. I'm normally a film photographer but it's not possible to get film developed right now so I wanted to use digital photography in a creative way. 
Who are your collaborators?
My fiance Adam LaBay and my Himalayan cat The Oracle.
How do you share joy with others?
I share joy with others by creating moments of connection. 
When you can’t seem to find joy, how do you create spaces or opportunities in order to invite joy in?
Really it's all about gratitude. I have a little gratitude journal that I write in and that helps bring me out of the muck and the mire. Meditation and exercise are super helpful with clearing away the noise in my mind. Joy is always there; it's just a matter of clearing away the obstructions to its expression. 
How are you staying creative and positive during this time?  
I'm a big believer in the opportunities presented by limitations in art. The pressure of constraints can force creativity to new heights. While I'm not able to photograph others right now, I'm working on conceptualizing a new series and fleshing it out with more complexity than I've given myself the time to explore in the past. I've also learned a new skill: cyanotype printing on fabric. It's basically a dark room photochemical printing process where I print photos on shirts with giant negatives. 

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