A lot of people have been documenting their own experiences during the pandemic, mainly via social media channels. But a number of students from Buffalo State have been assigned to submit photographs (and accompanying thoughts and descriptions) to an Instagram page, thanks to some quick and creative thinking by their professor Bob Collignon, who is a photography adjunct.
“The recently-ended semester meant that we had to teach 1/2 a semester online,” explained Collignon. “I immediately started to think about what ‘project’ would keep my kids engaged. It was an obvious answer – the pandemic and their personal experience of all that the pandemic entailed.”
Collignon felt that the best way to keep his students involved with the program would be to get them focused on their own viewpoints of the pandemic, expressed through photographs. Since he could not directly interact with his students, he needed to come up with a way to engage them on another level.
“I had 40 students total,” explained Collignon. “From intro to 3rd semester advanced. Each was required to do 12-14 images with written thoughts. All images to be posted to a specifically established Instagram page that I created. I still have students posting to the page 2 weeks after school ended.”
Ultimately, documenting their day to day journeys through the COVID-19 crisis became a therapeutic way to cope with this new reality.
“It became a very emotional project for many of them,” Collignon added. “I was able to gauge when students might be ‘slipping’ a bit – some were very alone, still are, through this whole event.”
It can be very difficult to document personal accounts for all the world to see, especially during these uncertain times. That said, the students gained an immeasurable collective confidence throughout the process, while sharing their emotions through their images. Not only does this give us a rare insight into the hearts and minds of the students, it also showcases Buffalo as a landscape that few could have ever imagined.