A Photographer Is Taking Beautiful, Haunting Photos Of Families In Quarantine

Danielle St. Laurent has been capturing portraits of families sheltering in place in the sleepy suburbs of New Jersey during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dana Siomkos (right), the founder and CEO of You & Them, and Zane Latta, a stay-at-home dad, were photographed with their daughters, ages 7 and 4, by Danielle St. Laurent as part of a new series.
Dana Siomkos (right), the founder and CEO of You & Them, and Zane Latta, a stay-at-home dad, were photographed with their daughters, ages 7 and 4, by Danielle St. Laurent as part of a new series.

In the course of one weekend, Danielle St. Laurent said the world around her seemed to come to a complete halt.

The weekend was March 13-15. The New Jersey-based photographer said she looked out her window and was floored at how the growing coronavirus pandemic had stilled her neighborhood.

“On one of those days, I looked out my window and saw our neighbor’s son staring out his window for a long time at what seemed like nothing in particular,” St. Laurent told HuffPost.

As the quarantine went on, St. Laurent said she started wondering about the isolation kids were feeling.

“Never at that point did I think it would still be going on three months later,” she said.

St. Laurent, a mother herself, was fascinated by how families around her suburb of South Orange-Maplewood, New Jersey ― a state that ranks second in the country for known coronavirus cases ― were processing the isolation from others, “all while discovering a new intimacy among themselves.”

To capture the cocoon-like experience of quarantine, St. Laurent began taking photos of neighborhood families looking out the windows of their homes.

“I put the word out to see if anyone I knew would be interested and also asked my friends to spread the word,” St. Laurent said.

Michael Oliverio (left) and Barbara Kwon with their two daughters, ages 4 and 2.
Michael Oliverio (left) and Barbara Kwon with their two daughters, ages 4 and 2.

Arranging the portraits wasn’t as simple as just stopping by and asking for a quick photo. Given most of the families’ hectic work-from-home and school schedules, finding the right time was usually a challenge.

“Every day felt like a marathon with all that,” St. Laurent said. “Even though we were all home all the time, it was still a challenge to coordinate schedules.”

Staying socially distant while talking to the families and directing the photos required some finesse, too.

“During the shoots, we would have to communicate on speakerphone or rely on hand gesture and lip reading as we were almost always separated by a pane of glass and distance, of course,” she said.

Shooting the photos from outside, looking into the families’ windows and inner home world, gave the portraits a haunting dreamlike quality. Each is a snapshot into the socially distant lives none of the families ever imagined they’d be living.

In interviews with St. Laurent, the parents talked about how they were adjusting. One mom, photography agent Pippa Mockridge, spoke about how each of her kids was struggling with the quarantine in his own way.

“Our 4-year-old says we can’t go to work because everyone is sick and a virus is ‘on,’” Mockridge said. “Our 7-year-old knows what’s going on. We have turned off the radio because it’s too much for a little guy.”

Pippa Mockridge (left) is a photography agent. Michael Scheideler is an executive producer. Mockridge talked about how the couple's sons are adjusting to social distancing.
Pippa Mockridge (left) is a photography agent. Michael Scheideler is an executive producer. Mockridge talked about how the couple's sons are adjusting to social distancing.

The parents also talked about the unexpected perks of being homebound, even if they were feeling cloistered at times.

Barbara Kwon, who was photographed with her husband, Michael Oliverio, and their two daughters, ages 4 and 2, told St. Laurent she was embracing the extra family time.

“I’m watching my girls really get to know and love each other,” Kwon said. “And we’ve become more resourceful and waste less food. Everything and everyone that is important to me are so clear to me now.”

There was one family in the neighborhood that was a little less keen on being photographed: St. Laurent’s own.

“I did photograph my family, actually; however, I didn’t include it in the series,” she said, before joking, “At this point, they are so tired of my pointing my camera at them, they tend to fight me and win.”

Scroll down for more of St. Laurent’s at-home quarantine portraits, and follow her on Instagram for more of her work.

Danielle St. Laurent
Claire Weiss, a freelance commercial photographer, and her two sons, 6 and 12.

"My 12-year-old understands more than my 6-year-old," Weiss said. "They both know we’re staying home to be safe, but we honestly don’t talk about it too much. We’re just trying to keep it light and bright and stay connected digitally with close friends and family."
Danielle St. Laurent
Ashley (center), a small business marketing consultant, and Zyphus, a journalist, with their 2-year-old.

"[The baby] understands more than we thought she would. She asks why we can't go to the library, the park, to see her lala and papa," Ashley said. "We told her it's because there are germs outside that are making people sick, so we need to stay home until the germs are gone. She accepts the reasoning but we can see all the things she misses just by watching the way she plays. All her dolls go to school and to see their friends. It's sad, but she's safe and that's all that matters."
Danielle St. Laurent
Thomas Osborn (second from right), the creative director and vice president of education for TIGI Americas, and Mariel Osborn, director of production at LaMer, with their son, 7, and daughter, 4.

"My husband and I are incredibly lucky to still be employed, so we are still getting up early and hitting the computers for Zoom meetings ALL. DAY. LONG," Mariel said. During the days, "there's usually crying and screaming at some point, mostly from the kids, sometimes from the parents, sometimes from everyone."
Danielle St. Laurent
Rich Tornambe Canecchia (left) and Arden Canecchia photographed with their two sons, 10 and 11.

"The kids understand what's going on, although they’ve made a number of assumptions about the pandemic which we have to fact check quite often," Arden said. "They have a lot to say (and ask) about COVID. But mostly they talk about how they want to be in school with their friends because school is much easier."
Danielle St. Laurent
Kat Johnson (left), a writer and editor, and Ryan Bhandari, a workplace strategist, with their 10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter.

"We're all getting more screen time from virtual school and video calls, but, weirdly, quarantine also feels kind of ... wholesome in other ways?" Johnson said. "We jump rope, sew, do archery in the backyard, ride bikes, play cards, re-enact 'The Great British Baking Show' with Play-Doh. Home-schooling is way harder than we thought, and we definitely suck at it, but we are incredibly grateful for how lucky we are. It's hard to know how kids will be changed by this time, but, hopefully, that sense of gratitude always endures."
Danielle St. Laurent
Michael Austin (second from right), who works in health care advertising, and Janine Austin, who manages the family business, Anthony Garubo Salon. Their daughter is 10, and their son is 6.

"We suffer a lot the few things we lack, and we enjoy too little the many things we have," Michael said, quoting Shakespeare. "[But] the virus is changing that.”
Danielle St. Laurent
Michelle (right) and Bradley Java, the owners of a local composting business, with their three sons, ages 15, 13 and 10.

"The positive is that we have time back. We have three boys who play basketball on three different teams," Michelle said. "That means every night of the week we were taking at least one kid to practice. Our weekends were filled with tournaments, sometimes in faraway places. We're enjoying being less busy and being able to get to some house projects we have put off for years!"
Danielle St. Laurent
Mandy Misagal (left) and Galadriel Masterson and their senior pug, Sunny Masterson

"There are no invitations to navigate or workout classes to attend, trains to catch or appointments to rush to," Masterson said. "Instead, there are long walks, epic bike rides, fun car rides, sitting outside staring at the grass and finally getting to our home projects! It reminds us of how we both grew up."
Danielle St. Laurent
Doak Sergent, the director of brand partnerships at Ipsy, with his daughter, 13, and son, 8.

"Our kids are five years apart and in completely different phases of their lives, so if there's a silver lining, it's that this has forced them to connect and rely on one another in ways that they might not have otherwise," Sergent said. "They're spending time together, playing together and even helping each other out with chores."

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