Local artist captures ‘Pandemic Portraits’ despite barriers

SEATTLE -- What does self-quarantine look like?

For weeks, families across our region have sacrificed so much after being forced to stay home, away from work, extended family members and friends.

That new reality, our new normal, ignited a vision for a local photographer who has been capturing images like these.

They’re called "Pandemic Portraits." Seattle photographer Steven Miller has been capturing how we all have been trying to survive a pandemic through the barriers that separate us.

“I think this is why so many photographers all over the world are documenting this because we know this is a new way of living,” said Miller.

It’s not just a new way of living. For Miller, it’s also a new way to make art.

“I’ve always loved capturing the essence of people in a photo,” he said. “I want to show the shadow side of life.”

After Miller was laid off due to the pandemic, he devised a plan to continue his craft by documenting our new normal.

“Shooting through glass is just another layer for photography,” he said.

Miller has been capturing the images that illustrate our new lives. They show people sharing a home together, all while simultaneously being separated from the outside and each other. They also highlight people isolating alone.

“It’s like this idea of containment,” said Jim Kent, one of Miller’s subjects. “We’re told to contain ourselves within our walls.”

“I think it’s important to show the underlying tension that is happening in society right now,” said Miller.

“I think his work is important, to document this experience,” said Julie Robinson-Jasper, one of Miller’s first subjects for the project.

The image Miller published showcasing her family revealed how she and her two kids appear to be struggling with the isolation, while her husband’s beaming smile portrays a sense of positivity.

“Steven really brought out the honesty of our family in that shot,” she said.

Until our new normal actually begins to feel normal, Miller plans to continue highlighting what we still have - even if barriers keep us apart.

“It makes me feel like I'm working to keep the community connected, even if it’s just online,” said Miller.