Pandemic Landscapes

Filip Wolak

2020 - Ongoing

United States

Emptied cities, skies, airports, stadiums, deserted parking lots, roads, schools, workplaces... 2020, a year where our world stood still, holding its breath and bracing for challenges unknown to the modern, developed world. This photo series is a visual story of human environments, but distanced from the personal and dramatic demise which the pandemic has caused to so many. Let this selection bear silent witness to the changes that have affected us all during the course of the past year.

These photographs were taken from a small airplane – whilst crossing the continent during the early months of the pandemic – and supplemented by images from areas close to the author’s home.

As the pandemic persists, this series will grow. Will the world ever get back to normal? And what is to be the new normal?

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  • Dormant JFK Airport – An unusually silent JFK airport during the peak of COVID-19 crisis (May 2020). Over the course of this shoot, no movement was observed when just a few months earlier this was the usual beehive of activity.

  • Desert Hiatus – Mojave’s Victorville Airport serves as an intermediate storage for Delta Airlines during the pandemic (May 2020). This airport is usually used as a last stop for various large aircraft when taken out of service, its convenient location, long runways, dry climate and qualified ground support make it an excellent place for the unemployed aircraft.

  • New Social Guidelines – Brooklyn's Domino Park’s visitors adhere to social distancing guidelines while enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon (June 2020). With pleasant temperatures in New York City, people slowly started getting used to their new reality and ventured in search of fresh air.
    This photograph was taken from an altitude of around 8,000 feet, to avoid the tightly controlled airspace covering New York City.

  • The Longest School Break – Elsinore High School in Wildomar, California (May 2020) remains closed since March, the beginning of the pandemic . As education and learning ventured into the virtual realm, posing overwhelming challenges to infrastructure, educators, students, and their parents, what will be the effects of such a paradigm shift on a generation’s development and learning?

  • No Fans Allowed – The Philadelphia Eagles host the New Orleans Saints at an empty Lincoln Financial stadium in Philadelphia (November 2020). Sports has experienced a big shift due to COVID-19 – canceled games, leagues, and complete seasons. The NFL – pictured here – managed to play its complete season, despite all the disturbances and challenges that the pandemic brought.

  • New York City, no Tourists – Empty Times Square as COVID-19 severely affects New York City’s tourism industry (October 2020). A record-setting 65 million tourists visited NYC in 2019. Overnight, the situation drastically transformed. For a city that also heavily depends on visitors from all around the globe, this change has been felt especially hard throughout the many supporting industries.

  • Disneyland's Empty Parking Lot – One of the most striking images from above are massive parking lots, empty. The biggest and most famous amusement park in California remains shuttered (May 2020), as automobile loving Californians are ordered to stay home and entertainment venues remain closed.

  • Disrupted Commerce – Port of Newark new car parking lot at near capacity, as the pandemic disrupts the supply chain

  • Signs of a Change – This former LA Lakers home court serves as one of the COVID-19 vaccination mega-sites in Los Angeles, as an airliner comes to land at the nearby LAX airport (January 2021).

  • Snowed in Cemetery – The pandemic continues to write its story: the nation's COVID-19 death toll nears 350,000 as we entered an uncertain 2021. What will this new year bring? Hope and recovery? Or acceptance and adaptation to the only constant, change?

    Soon, spring’s warming sun rays will lead us out of the cold, dark, lonesome days. As we enter a new cycle of life, what will we have learned?