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FFOTO's Five Quarantine Questions for Getty Images Gallery's Shawn Waldron and Photojournalist Barbara Alper

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Question Authority by Barbara Alper"Question Authority", 1985 © Barbara Alper / Courtesy Getty Image Gallery

In FF/QQ 5 we hear from Shawn Waldron, Curator at Getty Images Gallery, and Getty photographer Barbara Alper, whose photojournalism spans 40+ years. Both Waldron and Alper live and work in New York City and bring their perspectives on the Covid-19 situation as it is experienced by the citizens of that great metropolis.

- Craig D'Arville

 

 

Shawn Waldron, Curator, Getty Images Gallery (@shawn_waldron, @gettyimagesgallery)

Shawn Waldron's #WFH selfieShawn Waldron's #WFH Selfie

Craig D'Arville: What are you working on right now?

Shawn Waldron: Gallery and museum exhibition calendars are completely upturned for the foreseeable future, so I am using this time to work on long-tail, big picture, back-of-house projects: updating design templates, working on the Getty Images Gallery site, making deep dives into the Getty Images archive and contemporary collections looking for ‘new’ material, etc. I also have a book deadline in the fall, so that work continues unabated. Basically anything that will better position us to hit the ground running once business and society return in some form.

CD: How is physical distancing affecting your work flow?

SW: Physical distancing has meant a lot more Zoom meetings and Slack conversations, there is no doubt. Curating and editing is often a solitary exercise, however, so in many ways my work flow has simply moved from the office to my dining room table.

CD: What are you doing to stay engaged with your community during this strange time?

SW: I was already on Instagram too much, so that hasn’t changed, but I’ve found myself using Facebook more outside of working hours. It feels a bit lighter, content wise, and is focused on family and personal wellbeing. Co-workers and family members have been having evening group chats with friends, which is something I need to be better about.

CD: We're all spending a lot of time on social media right now. Whose work is getting your attention right now?

SW: You mean besides the FFOTO and Getty Images Gallery feeds? 😉

1. My friend and former colleague Bill Shapiro highlights an artist every Friday; the choices are pleasantly surprising and, just like Bill, sophisticated.

2. It’s been wonderful to see the photography world stepping up to support the efforts to control the coronavirus through heavily discounted print sales; a number of sites have popped up recently, but two worth mentioning are Giveworld and Dream Sequence Editions.

3. For entertainment, D-Nice’s epic DJ sets broadcast live over Instagram every Saturday night are not to be missed. Besides being one of the longest running DJs in hip hop, D-Nice is also a Leica addict; his photography can be found @monochromlife

CD: Any advice you’d like to share to help others coping with working from home, or in isolation?

SW: Get outside for some fresh air and to feel sun on your face every day, even if only for a few minutes. Backyard, balcony, rooftop, even just standing in front of an open door or window—I find it makes a world of difference.

Browse all Getty Images Gallery listings on FFOTO

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BARBARA ALPER, Photojournalist (@balper_nyc

Question Authority, 1985, by Barbara Alper

"Question Authority", 1985, © Barbara Alper / Courtesty Getty Images Gallery

Craig D'Arville: Tell us about this photograph, "Question Authority", from 1985.

Barbara Alper: “Question Authority” is a motto from my teens, its message is timeless, and particularly relevant today. I made this photo at a rally in 1985, but it will never go out of date. It’s too bad we can’t trust our leaders today. How can we when the ones in the White House tried to make light of the approaching coronavirus disaster? In any case, or any period of time, it’s healthy to question authority. If we follow along without questioning, we’re just the sheep. That’s not me; I’ve been told I ask too many questions. My response is “too bad, they need to be asked”. I’ve photographed rallies, demonstrations and protests of all kinds since the late ‘70s, and continue to.  

CD: How is physical distancing affecting your work flow?

BA: This physical distancing ruling isn’t fun, but it’s necessary. I try to take care of my health, always have, so I’m listening to the warnings and not going out as much as I would under more normal conditions. I’ve traveled the world, often alone, always being careful, but sometimes taking risks. But, I’m also a photographer who runs away from danger rather than towards it. I know something new is coming, but I have no idea what the next phase of my life will be and that uncertainty is unsettling. It takes me time to adjust to new situations and major life changes like this, and during these times my creative juices are still, for the moment.  

I have plenty of time now to catch up on long overdue editing, scanning and printing - hopefully I’ll get to them soon. I photograph my cats who are an inspiration in their ability to relax in trying times, remaining completely oblivious to what’s going on, and I'm taking some photos on walks around the neighborhood. Nothing I’d call brilliant at this time. I want to photograph what our lives look like now, but I’m being Very careful going out and making sure that I don’t get too close to anyone, and that they keep their distance from me. It’s a conflict. I’d like to be there on the “front lines” but I can’t.

As a freelancer and artist, I’ve always spent a lot of time alone and at home, in my darkroom (until a few years ago) or in my studio. That was my choice, but this isn’t! It’s very different when I’m told I have to stay home. I don’t think of myself as a fearful person, but being told that I’m in a particularly susceptible, at-risk, age group makes it more unsettling, and I’m taking this seriously.  

CD: What are you doing to stay engaged with your community during this strange time?

BA: I’m in touch with friends regularly by phone, email, FaceTime calls or Skype to check in with each other. There’s also a group of photographers who all work with the same client, and we’ve been in touch sharing information about government policies and how they affect us and how we can take advantage of new programs. Rather than being competitive, we know we’re all in the same boat and it’s better to help each other and be supportive when we can. An aside - unbeknownst to me, one of them was walking down my block taking photos at 7pm when people lean out their windows and clap in support of the first responders; I was one of them. The next day she sent me a photo of me clapping from my 7th floor window!  A souvenir of the times.

I have wonderful neighbors in my building who look after each other, one of them shared her box of latex gloves. This week we’ve arranged to have a virtual tea party on Skype.  We’re trying to make the best of this.

CD: We're all spending a lot of time on social media right now. Whose work is getting your attention right now?

BA: I’m the Worst with social media, sorry to say, but true. I post things, just not consistently, on FB, Instagram and LinkedIn. I dropped the ball recently with Instagram, but I’ll be back!  Stay tuned.  

CD: Any advice you’d like to share to help others coping with working from home, or in isolation?

BA: It’s important to get up, to get fresh air, to move. Since the fitness room in my building has closed, I walk up & down the stairs for exercise. I’m lucky to have a wonderful park along the Hudson River only a couple of blocks away; it’s a great place for walks. We’re lucky this happened in the Spring. It’s beautiful out, birds are chirping, trees have buds, the Cherry Trees are blooming and the daffodils are coming up, all giving a sense of hope. It would have been much worse had this virus hit during the cold, dreary months.  

My tendency in the beginning of this disaster was to watch and listen to the news several times a day. Now that the bad news is fairly consistent, I tune in only a couple of times a day. My advice: put on Music! Upbeat is good, and Dancing heals the soul. 

Barbara Alper in her home studio

Barbara Alper's #WFH selfie in her home studio set-up

Shop FFOTO: Barbara Alper

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