Picture Day 2020
In COVID-19, nothing feels normal. Education is no exception. This year, school looks different. Students are adopting new ways of learning. For some, that means reducing time spent in class and incorporating new technologies for virtual instruction. For others, it means moving entirely to home-schooling. In this state of uncertainty, education will continue to tread shaky ground, and children will miss out on many school traditions—including picture day.
Growing up, I would get so excited for the annual picture day. I loved every aspect: choosing a marble colored backdrop, slicking my hair back with too much gel, dressing in my favorite outfit, and, for far too many years, wrapping puka shells around my neck. It made me feel special. Why? Because I knew the photos were special. They were more than just images—they memorialized a moment in time for my family and I to look back on. And this year, no child will get to experience this tradition. Picture day is yet another thing kids can’t have in 2020—a year genuinely worthy of remembrance.
This absence inspired my series “Picture Day 2020,” a project created to provide a sliver of normalcy for our youth during this pandemic. In partnership with Friends of the Children, a non-profit organization that breaks generational cycles of poverty, I drove across the United States and stopped at 18 of their students’ homes to take a modern version of a picture day portrait. I printed and sent the photos to each family, reviving a tradition in an untraditional way. Because 2020 has already taken away so many things that make kids feel seen and celebrated. And with this series, I hope to give them that feeling again.