The Pandemic Lens began as my personal photoblog. From February 2020 through the end of May, I was pretty much holed up in my house, save for an occasional socially distanced walk around the neighborhood and very infrequent trips to a local grocery store at 6 a.m. My photo work consisted of sorting through old images taken during treks out West, creating new abstract composites, and shooting closeups of natural and inanimate objects in my light box.

On June 8, I gathered my courage and my camera gear and walked to Davis Square, Somerville, where I took my first outdoor photo in four months. The image of the Somerville Theater garnered some attention on Instagram (for me, anyway).


Somerville Theater, Davis Square, Somerville, MA

Buoyed by the fact that I’d ventured out and returned alive, I was inspired to take more photos beyond the confines of my home. I started documenting how small businesses in my neck of the woods, North Cambridge, were handling the Massachusetts Phase 1 plan for reopening. As I spent more time on the street, even the most prosaic interactions seemed worthy of documentation. I began posting these images daily on Instagram, under the caption “Pandemic Chronicles 2020.”

As I thought about expanding the chronicles beyond an Instagram feed, my good friend and talented painter Tanya Hayes Lee suggested I call the new effort “The Pandemic Lens.”  (Tanya is now a regular contributor.) The scope of the “Lens” has steadily morphed and expanded. The word originally referenced a piece of glass in my camera. Now the pandemic is the lens.

My goal is ambitious: to provide a curated venue where selected photographers, painters, writers, and other artists can present works that express their reaction to these surreal times and their vision of what the days and years ahead might look like.

The Pandemic Lens is in its early stages, but the contributions and the reactions to the work posted to date suggest the concept has value and a future. Many thanks to everyone who has participated in and encouraged this work.

Steve Bennett
Cambridge, MA

Copyright © 2020 Steve Bennett