“The photograph is a memento from a life being lived.” – John Berger
For several months now, the shutdown of non-essential workplaces and schools has forced us to rethink what is essential to our lives.
I took the chance to investigate my compressed social life by photographing 8 souls from various walks of life. These portraits are a representation of the people I still engaged with—directly or not—during these unprecedented times.
Every morning during the circuit breaker period, I took a 5-minute walk for a leg stretch, and occasionally a trip to nearby markets for food, where I met this uncle—a senior fish stall owner at the wet market, who is still very concerned about how COVID-19 is affecting his income.
Having sold seafood in the market for over a decade, he is very proud of his work. Before I took his picture, he carefully aligned his fishes for me. As he works alone, he has never imagined how his fresh seafood would be as essential to us as his stall is to him. Never considering himself an essential worker, he continues to open the stall everyday despite the situation.
When it comes to the landscape workers who are mostly migrant workers from India or Bangladesh, are they deemed essential while our green grass can “take care” of itself, allowing more biodiversity without frequent cutting?
Ethan, who is a bassist, has had most of his scheduled musical work postponed as all gigs were cancelled and live music venues were closed. However, he managed to bring his work online, and continues to create music with his band. He has also diverted more of his focus to his work for a social initiative/training program to teach people about active listening, hoping to serve the community in a different way.
Music, to me, is the art form that touches me the most, a way of conversing with myself and expressing my emotions. This way of reaching one’s self that allows the space inside our mind to thrive is, for lack of a better word, essential to all of us.