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ADVANCED PHOTOJOURNALISM STUDENTS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE DOCUMENT THEIR EXPERIENCES OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
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I kept seeing this on every Git-N-Go gas station sign from the I-75 interstate exit all the way into Oak Ridge, Tennessee. I don’t know why a gas station sign saying “This too shall pass” is comforting, but it is. Besides that, it also shows staggeringly low fuel prices right now — something I never thought I’d see again is gas under $2 a gallon.
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LEFT A self-portrait of sorts, this is a result of self-isolation mixed with the urgency that comes with completing a class assignment with few resources at hand. Making DIY masks has become a popular pastime for many folks right now — I figured I could add my own tongue-in-cheek humor to this odd time by making my own mask out of a recently emptied Tostitos tortilla chip bag. RIGHT Captured this while heading down to campus earlier this week to find something to photograph. It’s a bit odd that a road sign is telling you to stay off the roads … after you’re already on the road. PHOTOS BY KELLY ALLEY
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This social distancing assignment really made me sit back and think about the times that we are living in, and that something as easy as staying at home could save so many lives, and of course your life as well. This pandemic really impacted the way we live, but most importantly brought our families together, and made our bond stronger, to let us know that we are going to get through this together. This soon will pass; we are going to see each other again. Be patient. Stay positive. Don’t give up.

By going out to public places it made me think about when the time is right and when this is over, we are going to appreciate more being around our friends and loved ones. Being at home gave a new perspective as well to look at this pandemic affecting our culture. Something that I hope people are reflecting on is how much they miss hugging their loved ones. Most importantly don’t take any of these things for granted any more.

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PHOTOS AND STORY BY ANA KAREN CELAYA HERNANDEZ
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Although my life has dramatically changed, photographing others made me focus more on their struggles. For others, like my 73 year-old friend Patrick who is retired and lives alone, it has made him stir crazy. He was grateful that I came by to photograph him…social distance “be damned”. PHOTO BY SHERRY LUDINGTON
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Living through a global pandemic, an event that will be recorded in history books for long after we’re gone, kind of sucks. Schools are closed and many are out of work, which means entire livelihoods have been disrupted. Spring events are cancelled or postponed (we all have an impending dread that those postponements will eventually be postponed as well). We have been learning new habits; some should have been there all along. Wash your hands, clean your groceries, keep a six foot distance from the people around you — is this our new normal? Will we ever get away from this virus? As I walk along the streets of a city I have always loved, I cannot help but to feel as if we are living through an apocalypse. Everything is somber, raindrops feel like ashes from this gray sky. We don’t know when things will go back to how they used to be, but surely this isn’t the end for us. We’ll keep on living. Through it all, humanity survives. One day, hopefully soon, this virus won’t hurt us as bad. PHOTO AND STORY BY SARAH ALI

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Quarantine. Self-isolation. Remote work. There are a lot of words you can use for the current situation we are living in, but for people who are immuno-compromised it means barely leaving the four walls of their house. The biggest difference between normal and now is that I am Clorox wiping all of my groceries, take-out food, and door handles… just in case. In the last 30 days, I have gone to the grocery store twice and Starbucks once a week. Besides that, I am not able to leave my house for fear of catching the virus. I work 16 hours remotely, I do my homework, I walk my dogs, I sleep, and I repeat. It is dark and a little lonely, but nevertheless we persist. In the wise words of the World War II British government, “Keep calm and carry on.” PHOTOS BY KAITLYN MARLOWE
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During this stressful time, the big phrase on everyones’ mind is “social distancing”. I decided to go and look around campus. It was odd being in a place that’s usually busy with students studying for finals. It was almost eerie. However, one thing people need to remember is that during this time of uncertainty, the world still spins. The UT Gardens was the best way to realize this. Plants are still blooming, the birds are still singing, and life continues on the outside world. PHOTOS BY CARL MYERS

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Most people since March have been staying inside their homes only to go out and make essential trips. Some enjoy getting some fresh air outside and hanging in a hammock by themselves instead of in their room, and others decide to be delivery drivers and are outside and amongst the public all day, everyday. That’s what I’ve been doing since quarantine started, delivering the people of Knoxville their favorite foods through DoorDash, since most restaurants are either closed or only doing take-out and delivery options. Not only have I been putting myself in front of the public by doing so, but so has every other essential worker that keeps America running. PHOTOS AND STORY BY KAITLYNN LUFFMAN

Empty streets, closed businesses, and few people out make Knoxville seem like a ghost town. COVID-19 has affected almost everything in our lives, and we will feel the effects for a long time.

As I walk around downtown, I see a few people out, most keeping reasonable social distance, but some are still not heeding the warnings. The city has a strange feel, and I miss the liveliness and happenings of this time of year. While the dogwoods are blooming, we will not have the Dogwood Arts Festival and events this year. The chalk walk art won’t be covering the square.

People are still keeping in contact with and checking on friends and family, finding new ways to spend time with each other while maintaining a safe distance. Zoom, FaceTime, telephone, and countless other ways to communicate and spend time together. I had dinner with a friend even though we are different states using FaceTime. Our normalcy has changed and no timeframe of when or if things will go back to the way they were. We will have a new normal after COVID-19.

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PHOTOS AND STORY BY SHANNON SHARP

How does one know what is essential? Throughout school, one is taught that the basic needs of life are food, water and shelter. I think we found that now, there’s much more we need than just just those three things. We need each other.

Over the past week I have been going out around the street taking photos of those who are still out and about. How do you show someone distancing themselves from others? On previous outings I would often stop whoever I was taking a photograph of and ask them for their permission to continue. After introductions I would usually follow up with questions of why they are here, or what they are doing. PHOTO AND STORY BY PARKER BROWN

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During my time in quarantine back home in Sewanee, my already tiny town of less than 2,000 people now feels desolate. There are no cars in town, and no locals out. It is truly a ghost town. As a musician with a good friend who plays music, I have hosted a “social distance jam” in my back yard with some of my friends that have been self quarantining over the last few weeks. PHOTO BY EDWIN KEEBLE
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Because of social distancing I have been forced to pay more attention to even the minute aspects of my life. Before I could just go for a drive and lose half a day going to various locations. With many businesses being closed in Knoxville, I had to get creative on where to explore and spend my down time. It was during these moments I was able to see how other locals were taking in the current situation. One of the first places I found myself was Gay Street where my second favorite ice cream shop is still open. Written on a dry erase board was the mandatory six feet separation for customers. Upon making it to the front of the line I realized the cashier and the rest of the staff were wearing plaid face masks to match with their uniforms. After snapping a quick photo, it was time to enjoy my shake. PHOTOS AND STORY BY MADISON WIDENER

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Although plenty of individuals are following the ‘stay-at-home’ orders and trying to stay at least six feet apart when they are out in public, there are still a lot of people out and about in Knoxville, especially at the parks as parents take their kids on bike rides, joggers run along the trails and grandparents leisurely walk. And while Knox County may have roped off playgrounds, bathrooms and sports fields, people still find ways to be outside.

A few Saturday’s ago, I ventured out to take photos, and to get out of the house for the first time in a while. A friend had told me about how this bagpipe player would be in Sequoyah Hills. First to perform for a funeral procession and then Tyler Roy, better known as the Vol Piper, walked along the streets of Sequoyah Hills attempting to raise awareness and funds for the Second Harvest Food.

As he walked, for a brief moment, neighbors walked behind him forgetting the six feet apart rule, enjoying their own company and his music as his bagpipes squealed and hummed songs including Rocky Top and Star Wars. The community walked in procession, some wearing masks and others not, and although I kept my own distance from everyone, it felt comforting to see people together. PHOTOS AND STORY BY GABI SZYMANOWSKA

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Quarantine life for me has been normal, but slightly askew. I am lucky to still have a job and go to work twice a week but to an empty restaurant where I deliver food to cars instead of tables and answer phones instead of face to face interaction. Life at home has led to a very clean house but no drive to do assignments online as I learn better traditionally. Video games, Netflix and at home workouts have become my daily repetition and I have started to actually hate looking at my phone screen. Staying home this long is unusual for me as I am one who thrives outside camping or traveling. I hope after the stay home is lifted the world can recover safely but also quickly. PHOTO AND STORY BY LOGAN MITCHELL

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I’ve thought about how to start this a lot. I want to say how much COVID-19 has affected me, but I’m a college student that hasn’t been financially affected, and my family is safe and healthy, so who am I to complain? If there’s ever been a time to not compare struggles, it’s now, but how are you supposed to grin and bear all this? I didn’t sign up for this-I didn’t enroll in an in-person university to then be expected to be able to be the same student in an online environment. I think that’s how we all feel though. None of us signed up for this. No nurse, doctor or anyone in health care expected to put their lives on the line due to a worldwide pandemic. Although times are some of the toughest some of us have ever had, and tensions are high, the love and compassion in the world seems greater than all that. Strangers helping out strangers, people in cities on balconies cheering for those on the front line, hearts being shared with overflowing compassion. Of course humanity isn’t perfect, but these times have proven my core beliefs-that people are good. I know we can get through this and from what I have seen, we will continue to do it with heart. PHOTO AND STORY BY EMME YOUNCE

Photographs and stories by students in Professor Robert Heller’s Advanced Photojournalism class in the School of Journalism & Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee

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