L.A. based street photographer, Matthew Nordman, shares his new approach to photography during a pandemic. View his current perspective of Los Angeles captured with the Leica M10-P, Leica SL and Leica SL2.
Q. What’s the story behind your images?
A. The images from this series were shot in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. All images were shot post Feb 29 after the first death on U.S. soil.
My goal was to just document how this unprecedented crisis is affecting daily life on the streets and in the city. The photo that is most impactful to me is the one of the older woman praying outside of Costco with people lined up in the hundreds to panic buy. A close second would be the photo of the empty school yard in the beginning of March. At the time, without knowing, this image was foreshadowing the school closures and safer at home order that were to take place in the following days.
Q. With the new restrictions in place, how has this impacted your approach to photography?
A. My daily routine has changed more than my approach. I have turned into somewhat of a germaphobe. I keep sanitizing wipes and a little bottle of 91% alcohol on me at all times when I am outside. When I leave the house, I don’t touch anything. I also have been wearing a cotton mask since the beginning of March. When photographing on the street I have adapted to social distancing by using longer lenses, or if I am using a wide angle, I pre-set my focal distance to 6 feet.
It has been challenging to photograph on the streets because everyone is hyper aware of their surroundings, so catching candid moments is much harder. It also doesn’t help that the streets are empty and super quiet. If you cross paths with anyone, they would have noticed you a block away. The virus has not changed how I make street portraits though. Most of the time there are little words exchanged with my subjects. When I take a portrait on the street, usually it’s just a hand gesture and a simple “thank you”, and I am on my way.
Q. How are you expressing your creativity while practicing social distance?
A. I’ve been expressing my creativity by challenging myself to use more of a journalistic approach to documenting the effects of COVID-19 in Los Angeles. Photographing trends like boarded up store fronts or going to a location for a specific story. Like everyone else, I lost all my future commercial gigs due to the virus, so I have been dedicating all my time to my street photography and documenting what I can.
Q. What advice do you have for those who are in a creative slump as a result of today’s climate?
A. If you shoot on the streets like I do, I would suggest start by at least taking a walk a day for exercise and taking your camera with you, even if its just in your neighborhood. Make sure to practice social distancing and do not be in confined spaces with groups of people. Explore your own home as well, look for when the best light comes through your windows or that interesting bird that always comes to your backyard. Maybe try setting up that home studio you always wanted. If you need an extra boost of inspirations, go through your photo book collection, and if you don’t have one, now would be the perfect time to start.
About Matthew Nordman
Matthew Nordman was born in El Centro, CA. He’s a Loyola Marymount University Alumni and a freelance self-taught photographer based in Los Angeles, C.A. Nordman is also the Co-Founder of These Streets Magazine and Ocho Media Group. Follow him on Instagram at @n.rdy, or visit his website: www.matthewnordman.com.