Nash Consing was in Belize, working on a documentary project, when the pandemic started to escalate at home in the U.S. in March 2020.
Consing, a senior studying journalism and communications, was planning to follow a high school sports team and create a photo series documenting its season. But due to COVID-19, it was canceled.
For the months of April, May and June, Consing was unable to work on any photography projects. He said this transition negatively affected his mental health.
“All that work, all that momentum, really just stood still in its tracks,” Consing said. “I moved back home in April and documented my home life, but that was really not what I was expecting to be doing in the spring semester of 2020.”
Student photographers like Consing have had to turn to new methods to keep up their craft as the pandemic continues to rage around the country. Though photography is a hands-on project, students are using social distancing and masking precautions to continue working.
Consing continued with freelance photoshoots in the fall, including his work as a photo and video assistant for the Communications and Creative Services Office at the Student Union. He said he was careful to take safety precautions, including double-masking and wiping down his equipment.
“I think it would be rude pre-COVID era if you were to ask someone, ‘Oh, who have you been hanging out with? Do you have any sicknesses?’” Consing said. “But for the safety of myself and the roommates that I live with here in Chapel Hill, it's kind of an essential thing to be vetting the people that I'm working with.”
Consing has taken the pandemic as an opportunity to turn the lens back on himself, which has allowed him to recognize what it feels like to be in front of the camera. He said he thinks this is a useful learning experience for young photographers and journalists.
Another student photographer, Rainey Scarborough, shared that sentiment.