MILLBURN, NJ — While residents all over the township are stuck in their homes during quarantine, one Millburn photographer is working to document their slices of life in a most unusual time of their lives.
Nancy Wolf, the woman behind the photo project, spoke with TAPinto Millburn/Short Hills and explained the idea behind her project, her motivations for taking pictures and more. Additionally, it should be noted that each photo taken is snapped from a socially distant position, to adhere to health and safety standards.
For Wolf, who was already taking pictures prior to quarantine, the idea germinated when she heard about other photographers doing the same thing.
“I saw it on the news, that someone was doing this project in another city and thought, ‘wow, this is a great idea to do in our town,’ because I love taking pictures and I love the idea behind the project, where neighbors get to see each other," Wolf said. "What I’m also finding when I go to people’s houses is it gives them a break from the mundane of what we’re doing every day and it really puts a smile on their faces to take part in it.”
While some pages, such as Humans of New York will put a small description or story with each photo, she said that she did not put down names or identifying info for a number of reasons.
“Because I’m putting it on a public Facebook page, that’s where I’m posting the pictures," Wolf said. "I really don’t want to put people’s names because I didn’t want to have to deal with releases […] some people don’t want their information all over, so I just wanted to put the pictures there, so people could see each other.
"Most people in town will know their friends and look for their friends, or just like looking at the pictures, but I didn’t really want to put a story about each person in there.”
Since she started photographing residents, she said she has heard their stories and learned about their lives. One of the ones she mentioned in particular was the mother and daughters pictured in the phots of this article whose father and husband is a medical worker in the city.
There are more stories like that, but for Wolf, the common thread is that every resident is facing this challenge in their own unique styles.
“It’s a position we’ve just never been in, and everybody’s dealing with it in their own ways," Wolf said.
As Wolf noted, she hopes her photographs will bring people together in a positive way, and help take their mind off of the outside world, even if it is only for a moment.
“By going out there, I don’t see people crying or upset," Wolf said. "They’re happy to see me, they’re enjoying their time getting their photo taken, they’re smiling, they’re outside. It just brings a different aspect to this whole time period, and it’s a positive aspect, and that’s what II like, because there’s plenty of things you see on the news, and you don’t see the people being grateful for what they do have,"
Wolf continued, "People are losing their jobs and all that, but it’s a moment in time when they’re not thinking about that, and they’re not thinking about ‘I can’t go outside and see my friends.’ They’re just thinking I the moment. They’re very present when I come to take their photograph.”
Wolf said that when it comes down to it, she is doing a task working to document this time period in Millburn and Short Hills, and that she loves the idea of being able to keep moments and memories preserved forever.
"I know it’s not a full representation of the time period, where people are taking [pictures of] the medical people and medical personnel in their full garb and everything, or how I went by the Mall the other day and the parking lot was empty," Wolf said. "But people are going to remember what they wrote on the signs, and it will just spark their memory of what was going on, just in a different way. But yes, I like the idea of documenting this time in history, and being able to look back.”
Residents in town who wish to contact Wolf to come and take their picture can do so by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Facebook page with all the photos is available here.
With college decisions tricking in, Wolf is also taking pictures of seniors in the district with their college apparel on. Residents who would like to have photos taken of their children in their college or university's gear can contact Wolf as well.