By Whitney Johnson, Director of Visual and Immersive Experiences
What would you do, stuck in a strange city under lockdown in an unprecedented nationwide fight against the coronavirus?
If you are Gabriele Galimberti, you start documenting how the quarantine has changed the people of the northern Italian city of Milan. That included, the 42-year-old photographer told me, witnessing a fistfight in a supermarket when one man inadvertently brushed past another.
“One screamed: Don’t touch me!!! You don’t even have your mask!!! Go away!” Galimberti wrote in an email. The fight ended only when police and an ambulance arrived.
Galimberti, after washing his hands frequently and using copious amounts of hand sanitizer, has taken striking images of a man with a mask praying inside one church (above) and of a lonely protester demonstrating outside another.
Galimberti, a Tuscan native, acknowledges that at first, he, like many Italians, didn’t take the virus seriously, continuing to socialize. Not now, though, with the number of cases in Italy rising sharply past 15,000 and the number of deaths past 1,000. People who he wants to photograph won't let him in their homes. Outside, people tell him to stay six feet away for fear of catching the virus, prompting him today to discontinue his daily work.
“I am starting to feel scared for my friends, family, everybody, and myself,” he says. His sister has had contact with someone who may have COVID-19, he says. They are awaiting the results of the test.
So what spurred him, as well as photographers in Rome or Venice's normally bustling St. Mark's Square (below), to record these images?
“I feel like I have to tell stories,” Galimberti tells me. “I feel like people around the world have to know what is happening here and act in advance against the virus.”
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The highest cancellation: Coronavirus has prompted Nepal to close its approaches to Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, following China’s shutdown of the Tibetan side. ... Supply chain issues from COVID-19 will delay the launch of Nikon’s N6 camera until at least May. ... The concept of “social distancing”—delaying or deterring coronavirus infection by reducing crowding—is postponing the start of the baseball season, canceling the NCAA’s March Madness tournament and soccer leagues worldwide, and closing schools, colleges. and Broadway shows. Even Starbucks is trying social distancing, considering fewer seats, farther apart.
Your Instagram photo of the day
When the monsoon comes: Typically, in Australia’s outback, cooling seasonal rains hit hard. Photographer Randy Olson caught 2004’s heavy rains (above). “This young Aboriginal girl is hunting for mud crabs in the water-soaked landscape,” Olson says. “It became difficult for people to get around—but easy for crocodiles that took advantage of the rains to travel overland from pool to pool.”
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Today in a minute
Overseeing an important collection: The 983,000 photographs and 3.35 million negatives and slides from Jet and Ebony magazines cover an often overlooked story about the African American experience. The nonprofit consortium that bought the collection has appointed Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, to oversee curation and programming before the collection is transferred to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
A trailblazing photo for sale: Taken in 1855, it is one of the earliest known war photographs. And the rare print from Roger Fenton’s Crimean War series is among the images in Sotheby’s spring auction, Popular Photography reports. Also on offer: prints from Dorothea Lange and Cindy Sherman.
Lost and found: An architect found undelivered portraits of 167 families inside a shuttered photography studio in Kansas City. Brian Bononi has since tracked down some of the families and reunited 40 of them with their images, PetaPixel reports. “Watching families get reconnected with what they thought is lost is such an awesome feeling,” Bononi says.
The big takeaway
Now what? Two years ago, Cathal McNaughton was among the Reuters photographers who won a Pulitzer Prize for their searing images of desperate Rohingya refugees fleeing genocide in Myanmar. Now he is living in a cottage outside his hometown in Northern Ireland, having left his Reuters post in India to help his ailing parents and to reunite with his daughter. “I may have had the best job in the world, but my family is the most important thing to me,” says McNaughton, who these days is living without a camera. He’s hoping to give back through instruction to aspiring photographers and others after “taking” people’s stories and images for years, the Irish Times reports.
Photo tip of the week
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One last glimpse
Retracing Marco Polo: From Beirut to Beijing, an expedition in custom vehicles set out in 1931 along the 13th century Italian explorer’s route to China. Nat Geo’s Maynard Owen Williams was the team’s photographer, and he took this image in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region in northwestern China. “One of Williams’s favorite compositional tools was the round archway featured here,” says our our senior photo archivist, Sara Manco. “This style of archway was a tool Williams used over and over again, to create a frame inside the picture frame, and draw attention to the figures photographed.”
Read: When the Silk Road met the Auto Age