These editorial photographers are tackling a new subject: images of homeschool life. See how they are balancing schoolwork, day jobs, and staying creative.
Living in quarantine has forced many of us to adjust how we live to this new normal. Photographers are no longer traveling. Many of us are working from home for the first time. For kids, homeschooling is the new normal and many parents are having to learn how to homeschool while balancing work.
In response, some editorial photographers have shifted their focus. instead of capturing images of red carpets and events, they are embarking on a new challenge—capturing images of homeschool and their experience of homeschooling their kids.
When you think of a typical stock image of homeschool, you picture a happy smiling parent and an enthusiastic child ready to learn. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Capturing authentic images of homeschooling looks a little bit different. It’s learning against the chaos of an imperfect house. It’s showing life as it unfolds, with parents trying to strike the balance between effective homeschooling and maintaining their sanity (and 9-to-5 jobs they are trying to maintain at home).
That’s why we spoke to two editorial photographers at Shutterstock about their experience photographing their own kids’ homeschool experience. James Veysey is an editorial photographer based in London, UK and Andrew Walker is an editorial photographer based in Darien, USA. We chatted about what the ups and the downs are to this new normal, and how they are adjusting their photographic craft to document this new normal.
As photographers, what have you been photographing at home that you normally don’t shoot?
Andrew: I usually photograph my family in a flattering light, but during the Covid-19 crisis I’ve been photographing them as unvarnished and as “real” as possible.
James: Early on, I was showing some symptoms of coronavirus and felt frustrated as an editorial photographer that I couldn’t be out covering stories. As I started to feel better, schools started closing. I’d seen how homeschooling was becoming a national story immediately as almost all parents were finding themselves suddenly at home with their children and thought it would make sense to capture the experience we were having. I was lucky though, as at that point they were still quite interested in doing their work!
How has the balance been between work and play with your kids at home?
Andrew: My wife’s job has become even more demanding during the crisis, so she’s upstairs in Zoom meetings almost all day. I’ve taken over most of the other daily duties, including feeding, schooling, entertaining and corralling my six and three-year-olds. I’m completely wiped out by bedtime.
James: As an editorial photographer I’m still going out to work every day. I do feel guilty as my wife is working from home, as well as looking after the children and doing their homeschooling. I tend to go out early every day so I’m back in time to take on some of the parenting later in the day and cook dinner if possible. My son has started to call me at midday to find out when I’m going to be home!
Homeschooling is something a lot of parents are dealing with for the first time. Why did you think it was important to capture images of this?
Andrew: Because it’s HARD. This entire experience is hard. I wanted other parents to know that they aren’t alone. It feels like an important piece of the story.
James: Mainly because it is becoming quite a universal experience for many families in the country, with ups and downs. It’s a learning curve for both the children and parents and with the schools closed, the kids’ education during this time is going to be a major topic for years to come.
Have you involved creativity in your homeschooling techniques? Tips for other parents to involve creative arts?
Andrew: In all honesty, I don’t have enough energy to make anything particularly “creative.” Fortunately, my dad taught high school science and is currently conducting Tuesday FaceTime science experiments for the kids. He’s great at it. I also try to get the kids to do things with their hands (bake bread, build a birdhouse, etc.) so that they can learn practical skills. Plus, other than the cleanup, it’s an awesome way to spend a fun chunk of the day with my kids.
James: I based my geography lessons with my kids on my travels after I left university, showing photographs of where I’d been, and getting them to learn about the countries and continents. I drew maps out and got them to color them in and write the names of the countries and continents. I think making it personal like that helps.
Thoughts on limiting the pressure on parents.
James: One thing to consider is that I also think we can put too much pressure on parents to provide the perfect homeschooling experience. In these times I think as families we should also have an eye on just making sure we get through this the best we can. Luckily our school has sent out material for the kids to do, but with a caveat that it won’t be marked. There isn’t an expectation that it will all get done, knowing that some households will struggle to achieve all this if parents are still working at home. Our kids are 8 and 5. Those with children in a different age bracket will have different challenges I’m sure. We are very lucky as well, they are loving this isolation. So far.
Thanks to these talented editorial photographers for not only documenting pivotal moments in history but also to provide these insights to other photographers who are striving to achieve balance in this new normal. We’re all in this together, and it’s important to remember that now more than ever.
Top Image by Andrew Walker.
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