Photo Therapy During Self-Isolation

Photography for Social Change
4 min readMar 26, 2020


By Bonnie Chiu

On Day 11 of staying at home — what started as self-quarantine then evolved into a lockdown in London — I have been reflecting on what photography can do to help us cope in these difficult times. Can it lift our spirits up, or help us document complex emotions that are difficult to articulate? Within the confines of the home, can it give us a creative outlet that transcends ouf immediate borders?

As I started thinking about this, it suddenly dawned on me that for many people, by the nature of their work, they are bound by the confines of the home and have very little freedoms. I learnt from three students at Lensational how photography can be used as therapy during self-isolation, and I want to share their beautiful works with you — hopefully for your inspiration.

Sinna Hermanto

Sinna Hermanto, who was a domestic worker in Hong Kong until she returned to Indonesia in 2016, has inspired me in how she used photography in creative ways to entertain herself and to lift her spirits.

Imaginary figures to tell a story

Sinna told us that she wanted to create a scenery of snow for her figures, so she used flour — handy, just from the kitchen!

Playing with light and shadows

The hand of love is my all time favourite at Lensational — Sinna was so observant of where the light comes into the home, and photographed herself picking up a heart.

Anik Dwi Kumalasari

Anik was really interested in shutter speed and how it makes a difference to the photos she takes. Part of this fascination was because she loves hiking and outdoor photography, so when she works at home, she has been experimenting with shutter speed.

Capturing speed

She gave such beauty to everyday objects, and captured the dynamism of water that gives life.

Asti Maria

Photos taken by Asti at home were done with a lomography camera, which gives interesting double exposure effects, whereas the ones shown above are done with a digital camera.

Emotions in the mundane

Asti took two pictures at her work environment — the storage room with the ironing board, and the bath curtain. When we show these pictures as part of the “Transit in Doubt” exhibition, that talks about the challenges faced by migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong, visitors kept telling us that these were their favourite pictures as they found a lot of deep emotions in what’s considered as mundane — something we can all find in our homes. But it is the transition from what is quite mundane to the next picture, titled Echoes of Blue, that shows the possibility of a better future.

The home can indeed be a place for inspiration. The lockdown is placing incredible strain on everyone but for those bound by the confines of the home, perhaps we can take some inspiration from Sinna, Anik and Asti. They also remind me of one of the greatest photographers, Vivian Maier, who has been a nanny her whole life.

I want to end on a positive spirit with a picture from Sinna, with a toast. May we all stay positive and get through the difficult times with solidarity! If you feel inspired by these photos, please share your photos and stories with hashtag #lensational #photographyathome #quarantinephotography



Photography for Social Change

A training a new generation of female photographers from the margins. Driving diverse, female-centric, ethical photography.