Photography Senior Shoots TIME Magazine Cover During COVID
May 25, 2020
When the 2019-2020 school year began, Drexel University photography senior Hannah Beier was steadfast on finishing her degree. This included conceptualizing and producing a final photography project, which originally focused on capturing Beier’s closest friends in vulnerable and emotionally raw scenarios. Beier began conducting one-on-one photography sessions in her Philadelphia apartment, where she would aim to emotionally connect with her subjects and snap images that conveyed the true feelings of the models. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic took control of the lives of people around the world, including soon-to-be graduating college seniors, Beier’s method of photography and overall concept for her senior project was forced to dramatically conform to the new normal as a result of the rapidly spreading virus.
In place of the private in-person photography sessions, Beier instead opted to use Internet technology to perform virtual photography sessions. She FaceTimed her subjects and interviewed them about their time in quarantine, placing emphasis on how the abrupt lifestyle change made them feel. Beier then virtually toured the subjects’ quarantine environments, which included forcibly inhabited childhood homes for the majority. She picked the location of each photo and directed the shoot from her quarantine location — her parent’s house in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. Beier directed models, indicated which settings to use on the camera, framed and composed the images — everything besides pushing the button to capture the photos.
As graduation approached for the class of 2020, TIME Magazine decided to produce a story aimed at capturing the look and feel of this moment for young graduates. TIME director of photography Katherine Pomerantz and her team reached out to photography programs at colleges around the United States, finding Beier’s work in the process. Her project ended up in the pages of TIME’s Generation Pandemic issue and was eventually fittingly titled “Time Apart.”
Thanks to the help of Drexel’s Photography program, Beier is already accomplishing her career goals, with her TIME work being her first professionally published photos. Beier told TIME that the purpose of the series was “to portray personal and authentic moments that connect us beyond the commonality of living through a pandemic.” She accomplished just that in a piece that has immortalized the multitude of emotions the class of 2020 experienced as their college careers came to a bittersweet end. Beier’s entire series can be found on her website.