New Photo Project Brings the Community Together Amid the Pandemic

“Greetings, Covidans,” a gallery of photos devoted to COVID-19. (Photo from Greetings, Covidians, FIU)

Elida Velado Salazar/contributing writer

While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on a wave of isolation for everyone, a visual research project created by two FIU researchers is looking to bring those shared experiences together in one digital space. 

“Greetings, Covidans,” a gallery of photos devoted to COVID-19 is using a visual research methodology called photovoice that involves a community reflecting on common issues and their varying perspectives to incite social change. 

With this project, the researchers sought to encapsulate the times and urge its audience to take into account the varying realities others are living during this pandemic.

“We hope to create a cathartic space where people will be able to express what they are going through,” said Jack Vertovec, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies. 

The visual project which Vertovec calls a “curated archive of experiences,” involves a 

myriad of individuals from master’s students to professors.

“Photovoice is what instigated and catalyzed the entire project” Vertovec said. 

He explained that the project began due to a course he and his colleagues took last spring where they all felt photovoice could best encapsulate the reality they were facing. 

This course led to the formation of a small photovoice project which later grew into “Greetings, Covidans.”

Photo submitted to COVID-19 gallery.

Vertovec and his colleagues hope to take this visual research to policymakers, creating a larger discussion on the improvement of others’ lives, saying they want to “contribute to social change.” 

From housing disparities, job losses to losses of life, every person has had a lifestyle transformation influenced by COVID-19; with “Greetings, Covidans,” they are able to share their stories in a communal way, according to Vertovec. 

“The ways others are coping with the negative outcomes of the pandemic, like the increase in anxiety and stress,” he said. “We’ve identified the coping mechanisms others use such as going for long walks, and seeing family in a socially distanced way.”

In this social climate, it has become increasingly difficult to acclimate to a new way of life, that is why inclusivity is one of the project’s main guiding principles. 

Starting out as research-based in Miami, including south Floridians, it has now grown global, expanding to countries such as Bangkok, Yucatan, Portland, and San Francisco. 

The research project is also being funded by the Provost and Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab, Humanities Research Grant. 

The driving force behind this research being photovoice, piqued the interest of Jack Vertovec and its permission in visualizing an individual or group’s perspectives on their realities and how these experiences take form. 

Photo submitted to COVID-19 photo gallery.

Vertovec and his colleagues are interested in the form of how the pandemic has influenced the way they go about life. Describing how with this research they are making efforts to look at it from a positive light. 

“The participants are treating themselves in different ways, paying more attention to their own self-care, which is important,” he said. “While this is situated in a point in time, the global pandemic has been such a cataclysmic moment that we’re going to have reverberations from COVID-19 for the next maybe 20 years.” 

Photo submitted to COVID-19 photo gallery.

They hope to continue this project viewing it as an archive of information where in the future they will be able to draw conclusions and reflect on the unheard voices in the pandemic in both a positive and negative light. 

Currently, they’re also partnering with Pride lines and Camillus House in April to discuss their experience working on this collaboration to showcase a gallery on homeless communities’ perspectives in Miami the LGBTQ+ youth, primarily those living with HIV Aids. 

If interested in becoming a part of this research project, you can submit photos and upload a picture that best encapsulates your experience by clicking this link.

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