Family Life, Through A New Lens

New York City photographer Danielle St. Laurent, who recently moved with her husband and two children to Maplewood, New Jersey, says that in the beginning of the shelter-in-place order, she worried about the long term effects of social isolation on kids. “I looked out my window and saw my neighbor’s son looking at the window for a long time, at nothing in particular,” she said. “It looked sad and lonely.” Though she tried to stay optimistic, St. Laurent said that it was hard to keep worry from creeping in. Like many of us, she grew concerned about how long this will last. 

As the weeks progressed and the kids in the neighborhood stopped playing together, she started coming to terms with the severity of the pandemic. “Our boundaries got more defined and our world got smaller,” she said. “Day by day those lines were redrawn as new information came in.” 

To process the new normal of social distancing and isolation, St. Laurent began documenting the families in her neighborhood. She visited people’s homes, taking family portraits from outside. “I want these portraits to show the forced closeness families are experiencing, the beauty and the tension and the separation from society.” 

The challenges of the project are unique; aside from logistical inconveniences of shooting a family from the sidewalk, the pane of glass separating the photographer and her subjects prevents that sense of closeness that usually makes portraits feel so intimate, and even vulnerable. But the magic of this series is that those feelings are there anyway; the windows offer a glimpse into lives that have only recently become so private and insular.

“Sometimes I would be at someone’s house waiting to do their portrait, and I could hear the kids crying and fighting, and the parents desperately trying to get their people to the window,” St. Laurent said. “We are all putting on our brave faces, sometimes crumbling, sometimes thriving. We are seeing life through a new lens.” 

The Latta/Siomkas Family

Dana is an executive recruiter and the Founder & CEO of You & Them. Zane is a stay-at-home dad. Georgia and Clio are seven and four. "Our mornings are actually much more unstructured and a lot less hectic during quarantine," Dana said. "There's no pressure to get dressed and out the door by a certain time, so the kids can ease into their day with a little free play in their jammies, and less yelling from us to hurry up."

Photographed by Danielle St. Laurent
The Bradley Family

Michelle and Java, with their children Shay (15), Asher (13), and Johnah (10). One surprise positive of being quarantined is having their time together back. Michelle said, "We have three boys who play basketball on three different teams. That means every night of the week we are taking at least one kid to practice. Our weekends are filled with tournaments sometimes in far away places. We're enjoying being less busy and being able to get to some house projects we have put off for years!"
Photographed by Danielle St. Laurent
The Austin Family

Michael works in healthcare advertising, and Janine manages Anthony Garubo Salon, the family business. Their children are Ella, 10, and Reid, six. When asked about their new reality, the Austins quoted Shakespeare: "We suffer a lot the few things we lack and we enjoy too little the many things we have." But, they added, "The virus is changing that."
 Photographed by Danielle St. Laurent
The Lebrun Family

Zyphus is a journalist, and Ashley is a small business marketing consultant. Eva, who is two, is both a "baby cub" and a "monster." Ashley said, "We haven't been with Eva this much since maternity/paternity leave. It's exhausting, no doubt, but it's also special to see her growing literally before our eyes. We like teaching her new things and watching them sink in knowing that it wasn't daycare but us who helped her get there. When you work as much as we do, as much as most parents do, you miss that." She added that even though she thought spending so much time together as a couple would be hard on their marriage, "he makes me feel safe. I make him laugh. We've slowed down together and despite the loss of a job and so much to be scared of and worried about, I think these are the things that we'll remember with a smile."Photographed by Danielle St. Laurent
The Drachman Family

Evan is a real estate attorney and Allison is a litigator. Madeline is seven and Nathan is five. Every night at dinner, the family shares one positive thing from their day with each other: "It can be something small like watching a bird make a nest or just a cuddle. This helps us be thankful for what we have when we feel like we are missing so much. "

Photographed by Danielle St. Laurent
The Mockridge Family

Michael is an executive producer and Pippa works in photography management. Lucian and Ollie are seven and four. Pippa told us, "We try to keep a schedule, but it’s hard. We do our best, but when nothing goes to plan we snack, watch a movie in the evening, and start again the next day."
Photographed by Danielle St. Laurent
The Oliverio/Kwon Family

Michael is the Head of Content Operations at SoundCloud. Barbara is a hospitality and alcoholic beverage attorney. Ramona is four, and Imogen is two. Barbara said that Imogen doesn't understand what's happening: "She repeats the names of her daycare friends and caregivers and says not there and gone and says Imogen no friends shrugging her shoulders with her hands out in a questioning way." Ramona, though knows what is happening, and has begun talking about "before the virus" and "after the virus." Photographed by Danielle St. Laurent
Photographed by Danielle St. Laurent
The Osborn Family

Thomas is a hair dresser and Creative Director & VP of Education for TIGI Americas; Mariel is the Director of Production at LaMer. Their son, Jackson, and daughter, Frankie, are a Minecraft Master and ballerina-in-training, respectively. Mariel told us, "As a parent who commutes to the city daily for work, I'm used to seeing my kids three-ish hours a day, so a big positive is getting to spend time with them while they are small and still like me. When/if things go back to 'normal' I'm sure I'll miss all the time I'm getting to spend with them, so I'm trying to think of that through the hard moments. It's definitely a blessing and a curse."Photographed by Danielle St. Laurent
The Sergent Family

Doak is the director of brand partnerships at Ipsy. Lulu is 13, and Oliver is eight. Doak said, "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. They're spending time together, playing together and even helping each other out with chores. "
Photographed by Danielle St. Laurent
The Weiss Family

Claire is a photographer. Elie is 12, and Liam is six. Claire said, "My 12-year-old understands more than my six-year-old. 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. "Photographed by Danielle St. Laurent
Photographed by Danielle St. Laurent

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Family Life, Through A New Lens Family Life, Through A New Lens Reviewed by streakoggi on May 04, 2020 Rating: 5

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