Podcast: Photojournalists Covering the Coronavirus

Today’s episode of the B&H Photography Podcast hosts a compelling conversation with four photojournalists who are covering stories related to the COVID-19 outbreak in New York. We discuss the stories they have been photographing, the precautions they are taking, how they’ve adjusted their shooting styles, and about the assignments they are willing to accept and those they would like to pitch.

Joining us are Sarah Blesener, a documentarian covering stories for The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She is a recipient of an Alexia Foundation grant and is a Catchlight and Eugene Smith fellow. Her 2019 project, Beckon Us From Home, received a first-place prize in the Long-Term Project category of World Press Photo.

We also welcome veteran photojournalist John Taggart, who has worked for The New York Times, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, Reuters, and many other outlets. Based in Brooklyn, he is no stranger to the streets and subways of New York.

After a break, we speak with Desiree Rios, a Mexican-American photojournalist and documentary photographer from Fort Worth, Texas. She is currently based in New York, working for The New York Times, but has covered stories from California to Cuba.

Finally, we welcome Andrew Seng, who is based in Brooklyn and also works in Portland. His work focuses on creating a visual archive of the Cambodian diaspora, while questioning the formation of visual ideas of race and identity. He has worked for The New York Times, WNYC, Teach for America, The Los Angeles Times , and The Guardian, among others. Seng has also been a past guest on our show.

Join us for this timely and informative episode.

Guests: Sarah Blesener, John Taggart, Desiree Rios, and Andrew Seng

Photograph © Andrew Seng

A stock exchange worker heads into the New York Stock Exchange in Wall Street early on a Friday morning, March 13, 2020.  Mayor DeBlasio has declared a state of emergency in NYC, and large gatherings have been banned. © Sarah Blesener for the Wall Street Journal
A stock exchange worker heads into the New York Stock Exchange in Wall Street early on a Friday morning, March 13, 2020. Mayor DeBlasio has declared a state of emergency in NYC, and large gatherings have been banned. © Sarah Blesener for the Wall Street Journal
A man works out in Coney Island on a Saturday morning, March 21. The beach is usually crowded with tourists and locals. Mayor DeBlasio has declared a state of emergency in NYC, and large gatherings have been banned. On Sunday evening, new rules will take effect and will shut down all nonessential businesses across the state.  © Sarah Blesener for The Wall Street Journal
A man works out in Coney Island on a Saturday morning, March 21. The beach is usually crowded with tourists and locals. Mayor DeBlasio has declared a state of emergency in NYC, and large gatherings have been banned. On Sunday evening, new rules will take effect and will shut down all nonessential businesses across the state. © Sarah Blesener for The Wall Street Journal
Target employees restock food after a busy weekend. Several retailers have shortened hours to give employees more time to stock shelves. Aisles of food, toilet paper, and antibacterial cleaning supplies are nearly empty in this store in the Lower East Side. ©Sarah Blesener for The New York Times
Target employees restock food after a busy weekend. Several retailers have shortened hours to give employees more time to stock shelves. Aisles of food, toilet paper, and antibacterial cleaning supplies are nearly empty in this store in the Lower East Side. ©Sarah Blesener for The New York Times
The Atlantic Avenue Barclays Center station, one of Brooklyn’s busiest subway stops, was all but abandoned on Monday. March 16, 2020 © John Taggart for The New York Times
The Atlantic Avenue Barclays Center station, one of Brooklyn’s busiest subway stops, was all but abandoned on Monday. March 16, 2020 © John Taggart for The New York Times
A commuter wearing a protective mask crosses the East River by ferry. © John Taggart
A commuter wearing a protective mask crosses the East River by ferry. © John Taggart
Tear sheet of New York Times front page with photo by John Taggart © Courtesy of the photographer
Tear sheet of New York Times front page with photo by John Taggart © Courtesy of the photographer
A woman having her nails done at King Suki Nails in the Kingsbridge neighborhood of the Bronx, New York on Saturday afternoon. March 21, 2020 ©Desiree Rios for The New York Times
A woman having her nails done at King Suki Nails in the Kingsbridge neighborhood of the Bronx, New York on Saturday afternoon. March 21, 2020 ©Desiree Rios for The New York Times
A young woman helps her father unpack flowers outside of High Ridge Lotto & Candy  in the Bronx, New York on Saturday, March 21, 2020. © Desiree Rios for The New York Times
A young woman helps her father unpack flowers outside of High Ridge Lotto & Candy in the Bronx, New York on Saturday, March 21, 2020. © Desiree Rios for The New York Times
An employee at a nursing home talks on the phone while wearing a medical mask, in the Kingsbridge neighborhood of the Bronx, New York on Saturday, March 21, 2020. © Desiree Rios for The New York Times
An employee at a nursing home talks on the phone while wearing a medical mask, in the Kingsbridge neighborhood of the Bronx, New York on Saturday, March 21, 2020. © Desiree Rios for The New York Times
National Guard Private First-Class Donald James helps clean the Jewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester On Monday, March 16, 2020, in Scarsdale, NY (this image has been slightly modified from the original) © Andrew Seng for the New York Times
National Guard Private First-Class Donald James helps clean the Jewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester On Monday, March 16, 2020, in Scarsdale, NY (this image has been slightly modified from the original) © Andrew Seng for the New York Times
Members of the National Guard disinfect surfaces at the Jewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester on Monday, March 16, 2020, in Scarsdale, NY © Andrew Seng for The New York Times
Members of the National Guard disinfect surfaces at the Jewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester on Monday, March 16, 2020, in Scarsdale, NY © Andrew Seng for The New York Times
Health care professionals hold a demonstration of the Covid-19 testing process on Monday, March 16, 2020, in New Rochelle, NY © Andrew Seng for the New York Times
Health care professionals hold a demonstration of the Covid-19 testing process on Monday, March 16, 2020, in New Rochelle, NY © Andrew Seng for the New York Times

Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: John Harris
Senior Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Lawrence Neves

8 Comments

Thanks for putting this out there.  As someone who used to live in NY, it's a welcome window to to see and hear the current state as we weather this uncertain time.

Thank you for that comment, Martin.  As much as most photographers should stay home now, I'm proud of the ones who are out working, documenting, and doing it ethically and safely.

Great podcast. Always delivers.

Thank you John B!

That was very well produced.  You know you should be concerned when the Afghan Bureau chief is concerned.

Thank you Doug M.  Yes, that would get my attention too.

Good show! It has been tough to sort through all the information that's out there. It's overwhelming, yet repetitive. These conversations gave me some new perspectives on the current crisis and raised some good questions. 

Thanks Michael!!

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