When a photographer couldn’t take in-person portraits during quarantine, she turned to her iPhone

Jennifer Esneault set out to bring quarantine stories and silver linings to the world this spring.

In May, the local photographer launched the Quarantine Chronicles, a series that features FaceTime portraits and interviews with people about how the pandemic has changed their lives. She asks her interviewees, many of whom are friends who she has longed to chat with, how they’ve been impacted by the pandemic and what silver linings they’ve found during this time. The project provides a look into their livelihoods, and gets to the heart of all the feelings we share as people.

The series was a bit accidental, she says.

“I was FaceTiming with my parents, and I thought, ‘This is really the only way we can be together,’” she says. “And I thought, ‘Why does it have to be just my family?’”

Esneault also used the extra time at home to take 40 self portraits leading up to her 40th birthday.

She started connecting with people, asking to FaceTime them and take their pictures using her camera and phone, since the pandemic stopped her from being able to do her typical portrait sessions this spring. For the project, she spoke with artists, educators, an OB-GYN and more. (Editor’s note: She also interviewed 225 editor Jennifer Tormo.)

“I just started having conversations and reconnecting with people I hadn’t talked to in a very long time,” she says. “It felt really good.”

The pandemic has been tough for Esneault, as it has been for so many people across the globe. Suddenly, her income was gone, and she had to give out refunds to portrait clients.

The Quarantine Chronicles project has been cathartic—it’s all about finding and fostering human connections. Now, the project is available as an e-book on Apple Books.

So, as she asks in her interviews, does Esneault have her own silver linings?

She says one silver lining has been family time and being there for her kids: “We have lunch together every day.”

She’s also been finding her artistic voice, digging down into her niche.

“I’ve been trying to do a 40-day countdown to my 40th birthday,” she says. “I make a new self-portrait every day for 40 days.”

She completed this endeavor in August, in a series of dreamlike self-portraits that make you believe in magic. somebodysdaydream.com

Check out more stories on art during the coronavirus here.

This article was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.