'The New Normal" pandemic photo book
“The New Normal” is a compilation of the hard work of photojournalism students at the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. It is a result of the unforeseen circumstances that both the students of KU and members of the Lawrence community endured due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 16 students enrolled in this course, both juniors and seniors, captured moments in the semester that represent the pandemic, the 2020 presidential election, unemployment and the Black Lives Matter movement. All four of these topics have not only shaped this photojournalism book but have shaped our world today.
During KU's spring 2020 semester, the deadly COVID-19 virus forced KU to move all classes entirely online in mid-March until the end of the semester. From that point on, our KU experience was forever changed.
Once enrollment for the 2020 fall semester classes opened, the school offered Journalism 410 Photojournalism with Instructor Eric Thomas as a journalism elective, allowing students to photograph and publish images. This course began Aug. 25 and ended with finals week concluding on Dec. 11, 2020. For many students enrolled, this was our only in-person course of the semester, and we met every Tuesday or Thursday in Stauffer-Flint Hall. Our classroom was small and to maintain Center for Disease Control distancing guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19, class sessions were split into half in-person and half online. Students also had the option of using Zoom, an online video conferencing platform, if they could not attend in-person class.
Each week, Thomas provided students with photo assignments, including “Sense of Place,” “Composed Portraits,” “Student Life,” “Campus Life,” “An Issue in Action” and others. Due to social distancing guidelines and restrictions at local Lawrence establishments, students had to get creative with capturing their photographs while staying personally safe. Students captured these photo assignments using their DSLR cameras they had prior to taking this course, or one they rented from the journalism school’s Resource Center.
We also captured candid moments in everyday life for our “New Normal” assignments. Each week, students captured five photos of people performing everyday tasks, often with our camera phones. These photos were authentic with no editing or cropping. Once we captured our pictures, we submitted them through Google Photos. We received feedback from Thomas as well as from our peers.
Many students enrolled in this photojournalism elective with pretty limited skills. Few of the students had previously taken a photography related course. However, by the end of the semester, students obtained a better understanding of photojournalism and the ability to capture moments despite the limitations of an unforeseen global pandemic. From all of us in this Photojournalism class, we hope you enjoy the moments we have documented this fall.