If you asked me this time last year what I thought of wearing masks in portraits in Paris, I would have thought you were crazy! People would never wear masks in pictures. Oh boy, was I wrong…
I will be the first to admit that I never saw Covid-19 coming. I already had my year planned out, vacation days set on my calendar, trips planned, sessions booked throughout the year. So in February when I met a fellow photographer for coffee, and she shared about how one of her financial planners suggested that an economic decline was coming, I actually vehemently rejected the idea!
You see, I had moved to Paris because of the financial crisis of 2008. When people could no longer afford to pay for pictures, I turned to my backup plan and went to work in tech. And now that I had finally recreated a business that could support me financially, I certainly didn’t want to accept that I would hit another hard time!
I was powerless against a global pandemic, and in March, everything changed in France.
We all know what happened, so let me fast forward to August 2020….
I accepted that we weren’t going to have English-speaking tourists any time soon. So I had to pivot. I started on a couple of projects and was working around the areas that required us to wear masks. I could do this!
On August 28th, the mask mandate expanded to all of Paris and its suburbs. And I broke. I didn’t know how I could keep working as an outdoor portrait photographer when Paris required everyone to wear masks.
Then I realized that as a vacation photographer, I photograph singular moments in time. Well, welcome to 2020! We are in the middle of a global pandemic. We have to wear masks every time we leave the house. This is our reality.
But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t creating beautiful memories we will cherish forever. If we’ve learned anything from the lockdown period, it’s that we are still alive! And not to diminish the loss around us, but instead, to help celebrate the life lived, we should capture these memories – maybe now more than ever!
I launched a model call on Instagram and Facebook! I would embrace this crazy moment. We have to wear masks? Well that wouldn’t stop me! I set out to make masked portraits just as beautiful! What an incredible creative challenge!
However, as I began talking to the people that responded to my posts, I quickly realized that the important message wasn’t the masks – it was the stories of what they’ve been through! I knew there was something more here.
And so the project expanded beyond what I could have ever imagined!
I will never negate the hardships French people had during the lockdown in France. It took away one of the most important aspects of French culture: freedom. Yet, for an expatriate, the burden was even greater…
I could list some of the great challenges we are fighting to overcome, but I will let their stories speak for themselves. I have had the amazing opportunity to meet and work with countless (I really have lost count!) expatriates that decided to stay in France during the lockdown. They so graciously wore masks in all of their portraits, and I’m in love with how they look!
While some of these stories will pull at your heartstrings – I definitely got a bit teary-eyed from time to time – this series is one of perseverance. Leaving everything you love and know to live in a different country has its challenges, but this year has tested even the most permanent “lifers”. But they remained. They’ve strived and thrived. 2020 won’t get the best of them.
They are ex-pats!
I cannot wait to share their stories with you…
Timeless and romantic images for the modern francophile