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Together in Self-Isolation


Vanessa Guzzo explains how her Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 VC G2 wide-angle lens helps her capture intimate portraits of at-home life during an unparalleled health crisis.


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By Jenn Gidman
Images by Vanessa Guzzo


As the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep major portions of American life shuttered, it’s been a disorienting adjustment to spend a good portion of our days hunkered down at home, unable to attend work, school, or social activities—all while we’re also trying to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy and safe. But if there’s any silver lining, it may be that we’re becoming more connected with the family members we’re in close quarters with. Taking pictures of our time at home with them can be an excellent way to document the memories we’re making during this unusual time.

Photographer Vanessa Guzzo, who lives in Howard Beach, Queens, with her husband and three kids, ages 8, 11, and 13, says her family has been using this time together to return to the basics. “We’ve been teaching the kids how to bake, do laundry, and fix the lawn mower,” she says. “And we’re taking part in some old-fashioned entertainment, like playing hopscotch—I can’t believe my kids never knew how to play hopscotch before this!—knitting, even making Christmas ornaments.”

Vanessa realizes the historical importance of this time, and she wants to freeze the everyday moments that are now a part of it. “The other day my husband gave my son a haircut, so I took pictures of that,” she says. “Even though what we’re experiencing is unprecedented (and hopefully will never happen again), I want my memories of it to be real and authentic. I feel like the universe might be giving us a message here: to just slow down and appreciate the little things that we usually take for granted in our typically busy lives.”

To capture this temporary new normal, Vanessa has been using the Tamron SP 15-30mm VC G2 wide-angle lens, which she appreciates for its storytelling abilities. “I love this lens because it allows me to capture not only my subjects, but also their surroundings—which right now happens to be mostly around our home.”

Read on for explainers behind each of these photos, and for ideas to capture your own intimate images during this mandated together time.

© Vanessa Guzzo
15-30mm (26mm), F/2.8, 1/320th sec., ISO 10000
Click image to view larger

Kids are finding more time to daydream and use their imaginations these days. I’m obsessed with color and clutter, and that’s the look I was trying to capture in this image as this little boy remains deep in thought in his bedroom. The challenge in this image was that this was a very tiny room; the 15-30mm lens was key here. Plus it was pretty dark in there, so being able to open all the way up to F/2.8. was extremely helpful.

© Vanessa Guzzo
15-30mm (15mm), F/2.8, 1/1600th sec., ISO 6400
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Make sure to capture a little of the stir-craziness that’s bound to emerge after many, many days of being homebound. I love textures and patterns—the wallpaper on the stairs, the pattern on the curtains, and the stripes on the little girl’s dress made this seem like the perfect photo to make into a black and white. I also love the slightly skewed effect the 15-30 gives on the edges of the photo. It lends a funhouse-type look that offers a glimpse into how moms and dads might feel during the chaos of all of this.

© Vanessa Guzzo
15-30mm (15mm), F/4.0, 1/400th sec., ISO 3200
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This goes back to what I mentioned earlier in terms of slowing down and really nurturing your relationships with loved ones. What better opportunity for a new mom than to leisurely hang out one-on-one with the newest addition to the family. There was a lot of backlighting in this photo, but because the blanket was also white, it simply bounced much of that light back up onto her face.

Again, I liked the effect that the lens gives here, which is almost like tunnel vision. When it looks like it's wider on the outside, and I’m able to draw all of your attention right into the center of the photo, it lends a feeling of motion.

© Vanessa Guzzo
15-30mm (22mm), F/2.8, 1/320th sec., ISO 6400
Click image to view larger

What I think people are going to want to remember from this extended time at home is just doing everyday, regular stuff with their kids, like cooking or sharing a meal together. I really connect with images of our day-to-day living.

Parents should also remember to make sure they appear themselves in the photos. When you’re taking pictures of your family, you’re not just doing it for yourself—you’re doing it for your kids. And most kids love looking back at old family photos and seeing what Mom or Dad looked like during a certain time period. They don’t care if you weren’t wearing makeup that day or had on sweatpants. They just want to remember what you looked like.

Using the 15-30 lens for this photo was necessary so I could get those hanging lights into the image. I have a bioengineering background and I’m big into symmetry. My brain always leans toward making everything very straight, linear, and symmetrical. Those lights felt like they should be part of the story, framing my subjects in the image, and the 15-30 allowed me to incorporate them into the picture.

© Vanessa Guzzo
15-30mm (15mm), F/2.8, 1/320th sec., ISO 10000
Click image to view larger

What parents stuck at home with energetic children may be finding is that they’re letting the kids do what they maybe normally wouldn’t. For instance, I wouldn’t usually let my little one jump off her bed into her sister’s arms like that, but they’re having so much fun together lately that I’m letting a lot slide. The 15-30 lens helped once again here, because I was able to stand in the doorway and still capture the entire room.

© Vanessa Guzzo
15-30mm (30mm), F/7.1, 1/2000th sec., ISO 800
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This pic of the kids making shadows is one of my favorites. It’s like a mixture of olden days with more modern times. Kids have created shadow creatures forever, and converting this photo to black and white makes it seem like even more of a classic. But making heart shapes with your hands is a newer type of thing, so you get a sense of the current time period more from that added detail.

© Vanessa Guzzo
15-30mm (27mm), F/2.8, 1/125th sec., ISO 100
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This photo of my daughter was taken on a rainy day, when she was feeling a little bummed and just sitting in the window. Even the dog looks a little melancholy. This photo says so much more than it may initially appear to. For me, it really captures the conflicting emotions we’re all having right now.

© Vanessa Guzzo
15-30mm (30mm), F/3.5, 1/3200th sec., ISO 100
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What I love about this photo of my son walking on the beach is that the blue of his mask syncs up with the blue of the water and of the sky. There’s a lot of emotion in this picture. When I first looked at it, the juxtaposition really hit me of someone being outside and in nature, with all of these beautiful colors surrounding him, but at the same time constrained by this unnatural mask that we all need to wear now. You almost feel like he can’t even breathe in that fresh air that’s all around him.

To see more of Vanessa Guzzo’s images, go to www.vanessaguzzophotography.com.



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