How we stayed the blazes home: A family portrait from Nova Scotia under COVID-19
When the coronavirus came, my need to be home with my young girls outweighed my need to go out as a photojournalist. So I chronicled the pandemic as they saw it: A time of tears, joy and everyday beauty
Darren Calabrese is a proud Maritimer and photojournalist based in Halifax.
I’m not really the kind of dad who photographs his kids. I mean, I use my iPhone to take pictures of them, but rarely do those ever get seen. As a photojournalist, I’m regularly on the road, so when I’m home, the first thing I do is lock my cameras up. I often think I should take more pictures of my home life, but, as odd as it may sound, I don’t really feel relaxed with a camera in my hand. For me, it’s work.
When things started to shut down because of COVID-19, I was on assignment out of province. When I got back home to Halifax, I studied my coming schedule – Newfoundland, PEI, Australia, Japan. I crossed those trips off the calendar and put my cameras away.
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Once schools and daycares closed, and the full breadth of the virus started taking shape in Nova Scotia, my wife Tammy, an RN and patient care co-ordinator at a clinic here, had a clear and defined role to help the community get through this. But I felt lost. My first instinct, as a photojournalist, was to get out there and help share stories of the pandemic. But I couldn’t. I needed to be home with our girls, so Tammy could be at the clinic.
I have largely experienced the pandemic as a dad, more so than a journalist. And there has been an elegant simplicity in that.
There has been a lot of stress with my wife on the front lines and we have been navigating those anxieties. Like every other parent, we have been trying to soften our children’s experience of the pandemic – trying our best to shield them from our myriad concerns. Within our own walls and around the few blocks of the neighbourhood that we have been exploring, our life has continued to move at the speed of busy six- and three-year-olds. This has meant hours of make-believe and silliness from irrepressible imaginations; buckets of tears shed over missing friends; confused mood swings; and the thrill of persuading their mom to let them raise chickens here at the house.
We have our health and we are fortunate for that. But, these past months have not been without their difficulties. The intention for these pictures was simply to record the girls’ experience through this extraordinary time. All of the joy. All of the tears. And to remind parents that we are all in this together.
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