I was intrigued to see an email pop into my inbox recently with New Normal Photojournalism in the subject line. What does new normal mean? As readers of Photojournalism Now know, exploring the changing face of photojournalism in the digital age is something I’ve explored first as a journalist and later as scholar for over a decade.
As opposed to photojournalism’s new normal, a hotly contested concept, this exhibition focuses on humanity’s new normal in the flux of Covid-19 – I was going to say wake, but as we know, the pandemic is far from over. These student photojournalists, “have documented the pandemic from deep inside it, living and witnessing waves of devastation and renewal in bubbles across Australia, India and China. Their images capture how life prevails, in new and unexpected ways, within our ‘new normal’.
Concepts span the gamut of pandemic experiences and the combination of images shot in Australia, China, India and elsewhere give further credence to the idea that we are all in this together. It also shows that despite the challenges with long distance online learning, it does deliver a visually rich cross-cultural experience.
There are pictures that show what quarantine looks like in China like Zifeng Zhang’s picture above. Others make social commentary on the way that the pandemic has normalised an environment of extraordinary surveillance, a theme captured in Die Hu’s picture of the QR cube.
And there are those that convey the need to connect with other living beings while in isolation.
Head On Photo 2021
It’s hard to believe that I haven’t been to Head On in Sydney for two years now, a much loved event that I look forward to. Last year Head On transitioned online and the virtual festival was fabulous. This year I was honoured to be a member of the festival program selection committee. There were hundreds of amazing projects submitted by artists from around the world. The final program is a reflection of the exciting ways in which the medium of photography is being employed to tell stories that traverse the human experience.
Head On runs from 19-28 November. There are both virtual and in-real-life events. The first event is the virtual opening on Friday 19 November 7.30pm AEST, where the winners of the Head On Photo Awards will be announced. RSVP here.
Here are my six picks (because I can only publish six photographs at a time!)