Katherine Taylor asks the subjects of her photographic project, Masks of Boston, “Who do you wear a mask for?” It’s a way of emphasizing the community connection inherent in the masks – now ubiquitous due to COVID-19.
Here, she discusses the trajectory of the project, her approach to the portraits, and her outdoor socially-distanced studio.
As a photojournalist who has covered many stories relating to COVID-19, I was acutely aware that the advent of this virus had enormous personal and professional long-term, serious implications. I was becoming so anxious following the news and felt compelled to tell the stories beyond the headlines in an attempt to bring people agency during this time. The guiding principles have been that this is historic, every voice matters and positive community connection in a responsible way matters.
Within the constraints of the safety protocols put in place, I created an outdoor studio initially in my backyard where people could schedule themselves via a mobile tool to ensure social distancing and disinfected the only object subjects touched, a wooden stool, in between each shoot. Subjects primarily found me via social media, and I welcome everyone that wants to share their experience. I ask them to reflect on their challenges, their strengths and their reasons for wearing a mask in a hope that it will build deeper empathy amongst us all going through this separately yet together.
As time has passed, I have been able to network to photograph in multiple places, all outdoors.
See more portraits and read the subjects’ stories at masksofboston.com.
Katherine Taylor is a photojournalist who has been working in the field for the past 10 years for publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and more. Find her work, which often focuses on marginalized communities and voices, at katherinetaylorphotography.com and on Instagram.