Mom Channels Remote School Stress Into Wacky Family Photos

Ahna Tessler's "Quarantine Kids" finds humor in the chaos of her children learning from home.

As parents muddle through 2020, they’ve found different ways to cope with the challenges of remote learning, working from home, and the general stress of the coronavirus pandemic. For comedian and photographer Ahna Tessler, the best outlet was creating a funny photo series she calls “Quarantine Kids.”

“I took all these photos of my kids during this time, and I was thinking about how shitty it was that they are so limited in where they can go and the adventures they can experience,” Tessler told HuffPost. “I thought how cool it would be to put them into these fantastical scenarios that one can only achieve through Photoshop!”

Tessler’s series features her 8-year-old twins, Elliot and Madzie, in situations like zoo exhibits, performance venues and the open waters. The photographer said she takes countless photos of her children and gets her ideas by focusing on the ones that stand out to her and imagining what kind of scenario she could create with them.

“For instance, there’s a photo of my daughter sitting on the steps, holding the railings and looking out the window in her own world. Because her hands are holding onto the railings, she was in the perfect position to Photoshop something in with railings or bars,” she recalled, noting that she tried a few different Photoshop options before settling on a swing.

“I found an image of a swing, photoshopped her onto it and had her swinging over a magical city at sunset,” she said. “It was beautiful and haunting.”

The Photoshop project has been a great outlet for Tessler, who lost her photography jobs at the start of the pandemic. Because her husband and son are at high-risk for complications from COVID-19, they made the decision to leave their home in New York and hunker down in Connecticut as a “quaranteam” with her parents and sister’s family.

When it comes to remote learning, there are times that have “left both my kids sobbing hysterically and me feeling like I’m gonna smash something valuable,” Tessler said.

“I think that’s the toughest part,” she explained. “I have twins, and they are in different classes. I’m constantly going back and forth from one kid to the other trying to help them with this f**king math that I always end up getting wrong every time! The amount of stress home school is causing isn’t worth it at times. Why couldn’t they just say, ‘Forget school, people! We’ll resume when this shit is all over! You have enough to deal with, the last thing we will make you do is common core math!’”

Tessler said she also worries about regressions and what will happen once her family unit isn’t spending as much time together after getting used to so much togetherness.

Her “Quarantine Kids” photography project gives her an escape from the chaos and concerns. She said her kids also “really loved the final outcome” of their images.

Tessler hopes other families get a kick out of her photos, and she said she’s offering her services to other parents with a similar sense of humor.

Said the photographer, “I mean, who wouldn’t want a picture of their kid flying high about NYC with wings of a butterfly?”

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