As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change life profoundly for all of us, I’m sure that some may still be struggling to continue with photography whether for work or personal projects. Lockdowns and limitations have either hampered or heightened creativity for photographers and artists. Whichever is the case for you, I think photo diary projects is one of the potent ways to stay in touch with ourselves and our creative spirit in the challenging time we live in today.
For Budapest-based Marietta Varga, embarking on a photo diary project enabled her to find brightness against the gloom of the pandemic. I know that lockdown diaries and pandemic projects are already a dime and a dozen at this point. But hers is one of the few that I find truly inspiring in terms of creativity, message and effect in her personal and creative life.
Looking at everyday life in an extraordinary time
Titled “The Bright Shadow,” the photography project chronicles Varga’s introspection during lockdown and self-isolation. As with all of us, she initially felt extreme distress and fear, with the first few weeks she described as full of emotional ups and downs. “I have not presumed then that this situation could make a positive impact on my personal life or even on my creative work,” she shared in her project statement.
However, the solitude also allowed her to take the time to revisit all the things that were fundamentally important to her and appreciate the details of life that she overlooked in the past years.
“The world around me has slowed down and recently I have started perceiving and appreciating details and wonders of everyday life in this extraordinary state. My aim is to record these experiences on my photographs and to take them along with myself as mementos so that I will always remember those feelings which I have experienced during the lock down.”
Playing with light and shadows
What I found most impressive about this project is how Varga found herself looking more closely at the things that surround her while in solitude. That includes the way the light alters the mood of the spots around her house. Photography, after all, is fundamentally about understanding light and how to use it to tell a story.
She also made great use of light and shadows to craft simple but moving stories that highlight details and emotions. I think it’s a great creative exercise when you’re feeling stuck, out of ideas and down in the dumps because of a crisis like the pandemic. I also like how she kept things simple so there’s no pressure get started with shooting again after a long time of being unproductive and feeling uninspired.
All photos by Marietta Varga. Used with permission.