PHOTOS: My First Quarantine

PHOTOS: My First Quarantine

Story and photos: Ignacio Calderon

Up until March, most of my days started at 5 a.m. with an hour-long commute, and ended before midnight with a bike ride home. My 18-hour days were filled with barely any time to think. With the announcement that in-person classes were canceled in the spring semester at Columbia College Chicago due to the coronavirus pandemic, my routine changed drastically. As a photojournalist, I thrive off of human interaction, and for the following weeks, I was locked down with my family in the suburbs of Chicago. Time became a different type of blur. 

After a state of denial of what was happening in the world, I picked up my camera again to document not only how fast we adapted to our surroundings, but how those physical spaces change as well. With five people in the house, from age seven to 42, everyone was studying or working remotely in their own little corner— from P.E. classes in the kitchen to analyzing financial data on top of a dresser.

My Uncle Carlos (left) sits in his shower while I give him his first “quarantine haircut.”
Easter is an important holiday in our family. Every year the adults hide chocolate eggs for the children to find around the house.
A hanger once filled with puffy winter jackets now holds more than a dozen masks for each of us to use.
Every day we pushed each other to do some physical activity, whether it was some crunches and push-ups next to our beds or the dusty elliptical machine in the basement.
Carlos works on his wife’s dresser that now acts as a standing desk to use during meetings and remote classes.
Family friends visited us for the first time while still practicing social distancing.
My Aunt Pamela has embraced cooking as her new hobby amid the pandemic. She is preparing flour tortillas while her son, Juan Pablo, is doing a physical education class via Zoom.
Before the pandemic, most of us would leave the house in the morning for school or work. Now, watching ‘CBS This Morning’ to see the amount of daily new cases and deaths related to the coronavirus has become our routine.
The first birthday to arrive during quarantine is Juan Pablo’s. He wanted a “cheeseball cake” but settled for chocolate.
For Juan Pablo’s celebration, his parents organized a Zoom call with his friends from school and our neighbors.
As the weather starts to warm up, vibrant sunsets after a rainy day become a group activity.
During the lockdown, our only physical contact with the outside world was to get groceries. The new process of thoroughly disinfecting every item was done with coordination from everyone in the household.

One comment

  1. Wow – what an amazing documentation of our most unusual times. I love the personal-ness of this essay and these photos, but also the way they really speak to us universally of what we’re going through.


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