News & Politics

Check Out These Dramatic Quarantine Self-Portraits Taken by Professional Photographers

"Dessert is breakfast. My tub is my sofa. Life is good."

Is it true that the most challenging situations can end up being the most creative? Does isolation force us to tap into a new part of our creativity that we wouldn’t normally access? I wondered how local photographers might feel about those questions. So I asked them to send me a self-portrait from quarantine. Each entry is as unique as the artist, who, typically behind the lens, is in front of it here.


Photograph by Greg Kahn

Photograph by Greg Kahn:

“I’ve been using time in quarantine to experiment with lighting and develop new ways of looking at portraiture. Recently, I was showing my three-year old daughter this toy planetarium we bought, and when I turned it on, it accidentally projected onto her and the wall behind her instead of the ceiling. The effects were surreal, and I thought it would be fun to incorporate this technique into my work.”


Photograph by Angela B. Pan

Photograph by Angela B. Pan:

“I created this image to reflect the mixed emotions I’ve got going on in my head right now. Everything is a bit confusing and up in the air, but still trying my best to keep looking forward.”


Photograph by Darius Churchman

Photograph by Darius Churchman:

“During this time of uncertainty, isolation, and fear, I remembered the human spirit and its ability to overcome obstacles. I remembered that together we have endured, and together we have conquered an adversary such as the one we face today. I thought of creating something with that story. My story of today, told through the lens of a time that got us here. What would I have looked like then? Would I have been the same man with a camera?”


Photograph by Scott Suchman _NO REUSE

Photograph by Scott Suchman:

“It took two months of no work to turn me into my dog. My life now is nothing more than walks, naps, meals, and the occasional belly rub from my wife.”


Photograph by Paul Kim

Photograph by Paul Kim:

A self-portrait through the window to preserve these moments of isolation. Moments where we can feel so close, yet so far from the life we used to know.”


Photograph by David Burnett

Photograph by David Burnett:

“This spring, for the first time in some 50 years, I didn’t grab my cameras and head to where the issue, the problem, the story was. When you can talk about 50 years, like I just did, it means you’re in the ‘susceptible’ group for Covid. So I’ve shot where I can. My surroundings, my dog, myself. Where there is good light, that’s where I’m going.”


Photograph by Jada Imani M

Photograph by Jada Imani M:

“During this quarantine I have been faced with my own personal insecurities in relation to my appearance. I knew for a while I was not completely confident in my looks, but now I am forced to face my issues head on. I found some photos from a Marilyn Monroe calendar I was gifted years ago—ever since I was little, I knew Marilyn Monroe was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, a timeless beauty. Those photos inspired me to create this self-portrait series in a similar fashion and reminded me that I am a timeless beauty as well.”


Photograph by Julian Thomas

Photograph by Julian Thomas:

“Being at home during quarantine has only amplified my reliance on creativity to keep me sane. During week two, I started by photographing my breakfast in the morning with zero expectations other than to improvise with what I had. To my surprise those simple breakfast photos initiated what I call creative momentum. This momentum eventually lead to me pointing the camera at myself.”


Photograph by Terry Ashe

Photograph by Terry Ashe:

“I can’t see my grandchildren and I can’t play golf right now, so I’m spending a lot of time in the backyard. It’s therapeutic and good exercise. I love my trees and counting my birds, but not being able to see our grandchildren is tough when counting minutes. My hope is that I’ll be able to run around and keep up with them back here when all this is over.”


Photograph by Diana Walker

Photograph by Diana Walker:

“As a retired photojournalist for Time magazine, it is impossible for me to imagine what my job would be like today. As I am a member of the target group of citizens, I abide by all safety precautions. I also take real joy in Zoom calls which relieve somewhat the anxiety of the solitude we are living with. So this is my self-portrait during one of those blissful moments (see left top corner) as Mallory and I respond to our oldest son’s family in San Francisco! My iPhone becomes my Leica, always with me in my pocket.”


Photograph by Frank Thorp V.

Photograph by Frank Thorp V:

“For me, the quarantine has been defined by two things: being safe and healthy during the pandemic, but also the birth of our daughter, Ro. She was born on March 9, the same week the realities of the pandemic began to set in and people began self-quarantining. It was kind of like we went into the hospital in one world, and came out to another. While being in quarantine during a pandemic is itself overwhelming, being a new parent (obviously) is as well, and navigating the two together can be discombobulating.”


Photograph by eric kruszewski

Photograph by Eric Kruszewski:

“Self-portraiture was something I had never tried before. Having a stay-at-home order forced me to be creative in new ways and see my small world in a different light. A side benefit was polishing the floors as I ran and slid from camera to ground—something my girlfriend really appreciated.”

Photograph by Othello Banaci

Photograph by Othello Banaci:

“As I sit working in my robe, my mind becomes an everlasting ‘gobstopper’ of possible outcomes. What will happen? Will I make it through? Am I built for this? Uhh…is my internet fast enough? The answer is, ‘No one knows,’ but what I do know is that change is near. So, I take a deep breath and remind myself that this is all temporary.”


Photograph by Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Photograph by Stacy Zarin Goldberg:

“I am not a stay-at-home mom. I am not a teacher. I am most definitely not a chef. This is me, now. No photoshop, no makeup, no crazy light set-up, or set design, just the chaotic mess of my quarantine life (with a few strategically placed props). This is my self-portrait, in PJs. I am a photographer, a wife, and a mom. I adapt. I am strong. And gawddammit wash your hands. ‘There’s nothing stronger than a mom, ever.’—my mom.”


Photograph by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

Photograph by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades:

Right now, I’m spending most of my time in my bedroom, trying to stay busy since most of my work as a freelance photojournalist has dried up. I’m quarantining with a roommate, who’s been working from the living room, so the highlight of my day is usually late afternoon, when the sun finally reaches my bedroom and I can freely people watch from the window.”


Photograph by Kirth Bobb

Photograph by Kirth Bobb:

“This portrait represents having ALL of life in what seems to be ONE room—family and my responsibility to provide for them materially, the business end of making a living as a creative, and all of the creative tension that has built up while in quarantine.” 


Photograph by John Boal

Photograph by John Boal:

“Like many photographers, all my work has been canceled or postponed, but thankfully, my wife still has her job and works from home. I’ve tried to stay active creatively by reading photography books and journaling every day of this on my social media channels.”


Photograph by Xavier Dussaq

Photograph by Xavier Dussaq:

The quarantine has personally been a rollercoaster for me. On one hand, I have been able to spend more time with my wife and our dog, Blues, and now we have more time to spend doing things we enjoy like starting a herb garden or collecting old poems to independently publish. But on the other hand, it can be nerve-racking to read the daily news and adapting to the new reality we now live in. I always try to focus on the bright side of things; thankfully, I have been able to keep working as I’ve been uncovering DC United’s history while digitalizing our film negatives, and the last weekend of April I traveled to Detroit to take photo and video for Spanish newspaper El País. “


Photograph by Maya Oren

Photograph by Maya Oren:

“Since March, I’ve put my equipment away. I’ve gone inward. This time in quarantine has been one of deep silence and introverted, meditative work. I am tapping into a soul-driven creativity and will be guided to my next chapter in this way. I have no idea what’s to come, but can only move forward each day with the belief that the path will become clear, and that we will all be okay.”


Photograph by April Greer

Photograph by April Greer:

“I can’t complain about working from home. I have a giant workspace in the middle of everything, surrounded by windows that invite fresh air. This environment gives me peace of mind without distractions. I can dive into creating every morning without ‘getting ready.’ Working in a cubicle under fluorescent lights is hard for me, so the transition to WFH was seamless. I miss my work friends, though!”


Photograph by Shuran Huang

Photograph by Shuran Huang:

“As a photographer from China, I am currently dealing with the long process of obtaining a visa to chase my personal dream. This pandemic has brought considerable challenges that have tested my daily fortitude. For most of you, the quarantine started in late March, but I have not been able to freelance since last November. Normal challenges of being a photojournalist have been magnified with my fears of experiencing potential hate crimes incited by the ever-growing xenophobic incidents. I really miss home as my family is halfway across the globe. However, the quarantine has helped me build a strong character and tough times won’t stop me. Today, I represent one of so many internationals out there and I want my voice to be heard.”


Photograph by Colin Winterbottom

Photograph by Colin Winterbottom:

“In the world ‘before,’ I photographed architecture. Stir-crazy isolation got me trying new things: photographing a person and cutting my hair. The resulting photo makes challenging two limits at once look kind of dangerous.”


Photograph by Lauren Bulbin

Photograph by Lauren Bulbin:

“During the pandemic, I’ve felt an urgency to create new work. I have been experimenting a lot with film and what it is to photograph a historic moment like this one in a medium that is evocative of the nostalgic. Film is a huge part of representation and evidence in history. I want to pay homage to that fact. Since I’m unable to access a darkroom, I have begun developing in my bathtub. Through some trial and error, I’ve been able to develop black and white negatives, infrared film, and now color. It has been a trying experience, but it’s keeping me sane in these unbelievable times.”


Photograph by Lucian Perkins

Photograph by Lucian Perkins:

“I’m fortunate. My wife, Sarah Tanguy, and I are able to have candlelight dinners every night, and we’re using this time to do some work, catch up on neglected projects, and practice enjoying quieter moments. Going outside for walks during the spring is a blessing, but, as we wear masks, reminder of the pandemic we all face.”


Photograph by Marisa Guzman-Aloia

Photograph by Marisa GuzmánAloia:

The photographs I create have a fun and buoyant perspective. I wanted to bring that playful vibe to this self-portrait even though the current world around us can be heavy and dark at times. This image has a lighthearted quality while giving a nod to the constraints of being under stay-at-home orders.”


Photograph by Jeff Mauritzen

Photograph by Jeff Mauritzen:

“The stay at home order has not impacted me creatively. I’m still outside trying to find inspiration by either photographing in my own backyard or by looking for inspiration in some of our amazing local parks. Thankfully it’s springtime and there are lots of flora and fauna to photograph! On the financial side, I worry about the longterm impact this shutdown will have on my business, and I’m also deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life globally.”


Photograph by Hanad Ali

Photograph by Hanad Ali:

Work clothes are now lounge clothes. Dessert is breakfast. My tub is my sofa. Life is good.”


Photograph by Andrew Yianne

Photograph by Andrew Yianne:

As a graduating senior at American University, I hoped to finish my last semester in Washington before walking across the stage in May. Instead, I’ve had to head back to my home state of West Virginia to finish my classes online from my childhood bedroom. Although things haven’t gone as planned, I’ve been working on a small editorial series documenting the pandemic in Charleston, West Virginia, over the last month.”


Photograph by Skip Brown

Photograph by Skip Brown:

“My family and I escaped to the Outer Banks in early March and shortly after we arrived, they shut down access to the islands. We had by chance made it in under the wire and were inadvertently quarantined in a lovely, almost virus-free place with only the locals, wide open beaches, and lonely roads. My three kids and I have spent every day, all day, together, bonding, fighting, surfing, kite boarding, and occasionally throwing ourselves off Jockeys Ridge sand dune for fun. My adventures with them have been my sole photographic subjects for seven weeks now, and that’s OK.”


Photograph by Laura Chase de Formigny:

“Quarantine with a 2-year-old is a challenging time. Quarantine with a 2-year-old while pregnant presents a whole new host of challenges!” 


Photo Director