The Studio - photo Maria Freda, a great supporter of this project.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Who Do You Wear a Mask For?
My purpose in documenting mask wearing is to engender hope and a sense of pride in people. It is a fact that the safety measures now in place may be restrictive, but at the same they can instill in every individual a positive sense of community connection that provides a unique opportunity for people to empathize more deeply with one another, especially since while we may not be in the same boat we are all in the same storm.
The decision to work on this project was born out of fear, which I choose to motivate me to take action. As a photojournalist who has covered many stories relating to COVID-19, I was acutely aware that the advent of this virus had enormous personal and professional long term, serious implications. From the outset, I understood that wearing masks and social distancing would be required for a very long period of time. In March I wore a mask whenever I left home for groceries or other errands. It was not required at that time and I became accustomed to people looking at me strangely; this lack of awareness among people motivated me to do something. I was concerned. I purchased masks online and began safely distributing them to people on the street, essential working men and women, and to anyone with whom I came in contact with.
I am dedicated and committed to representing the facts about this pandemic. I also have a strong desire and sense of professional and personal responsibility to look beyond the headlines, which at times can incite fear and hopelessness in all of us. My hopes from this project are to encourage everyone to appreciate how important it is to wear a mask but at the same time to be aware that the underlying meaning extends far beyond the actual mask or need to distance ourselves socially. People all over the world have been impacted by this pandemic. The lessons these surreal circumstances can teach us are as varied as we are individual. On a personal level I feel compelled to report what I see so that all of us can feel seen and heard.
In my own case, I wear a mask for so many reasons: civic responsibility, respect and love for the people to who I am close, for the medical professionals who work tirelessly and without concern for their own safety, for all people whose occupations put them at risk so they can serve their community. And I wear it as a symbol of respect and means to honor our planet and everyone who lives here. Your well-being is my well-being because when we unite as one we are stronger then if we are separate.
So, I ask you: Who do you wear a mask for?