PORTRAITS OF A PANDEMIC
SERIES l & ll: Expressive Photography 2022
SERIES l: 2020-2021 began February 2, 2020. It was designed to help people express themselves during a time when so many of us were struggling with the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 Pandemic.
SERIES II: 2022 came to a close March 31, 2022. Below is an example of the transformational work that took place as a result of this project.
Stories Behind the Photos
Meet Imir Smith. Two years ago Imir attempted suicide as he felt that there were no other options for him. Miraculously, he survived, and today Imir is engaged to his beautiful fiancée and is expecting a baby boy in three months! He is committed to being a good father and setting an example for his son. He still struggles with depression and anxiety, much of which has been exacerbated by the overt racism that has surfaced in our country and the countless deaths of unarmed black men.
Imir was my first participant in 2020. During our photoshoot, Imir became emotional and asked me if I could “catch his tears.” As a new photographer, it was technically challenging for me, but of course I said yes - an honor that touched my heart and blew us both away. I’m so grateful for these simple, genuine moments amidst the madness and isolation of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Before each portrait session, I conduct a pre-interview wherein I ask participants what’s current for them and we brainstorm on a meaningful object they might bring to the photoshoot. Imir chose to bring his son-to-be’s baby shoes!
“I would never have imagined I’d be able to express myself in such a manner as I did with Abram Katz in his Pandemic Photography Project. Honestly, I did not believe it to be possible. Me, Imir Smith, a black man without resources and declining opportunity. In a world where the color of your skin will determine your overall well-being, I have been subpar at best and rapidly getting worse.
It wasn’t long ago when I felt that the future would not hold anything for me. I understand now that this is not true in the slightest! Abram Katz, along with my Fiancé Justina and Son-to-Be, reminded me that there is still promise in this world. After having second thoughts on joining the Pandemic Project, I finally did, and for that I am glad. This African American man who suffers from major depression disorder and PTSD on a daily basis is capable of more than just panic attacks and night terrors! During my time with Abram, I felt that I was actually a human being deserving of love and strong enough to do anything I set my mind to. This project has shown me that I am black and beautiful and worth more than my weight in gold.
I would like to thank Abram for this fairy tale opportunity. Coming from foster care and abuse, I found it hard to see the good things in people and in the future. I can honestly say this experience has transformed me in a major way. Making me more confident, showing me that opportunity is out there, even if it seems hard to grasp. It has brought me to a higher understanding of who I am and what “I” means to me. Giving wider reach to those who come up a little short or those less fortunate in this life is crucial. I believe projects like this are capable of showing human culture in its purest form. None of this would have been possible for me without access to Abram, and his grace and professional poise. I am forever grateful and humbled.”
~ Imir Smith