We've all seen and heard about the trippy effects of the Lensbaby collection haven't we? Well Sunny Mays, based in Fort Worth, Texas tells us how she likened the Lensbaby blur to the fog she was experiencing in her lockdown life! Sunny had barely used her Lensbaby before the pandemic, but gave herself a challenge to shoot once a day with her quirky lens and as a result has a series of images that truly represent the vibe of the time!
At first, the COVID pandemic didn’t seem real to me. It was spring break and my family was in vacation mode, blissfully oblivious to reports sharing dreadful news of the pandemic’s spread and the reality around us. When we returned home, we saw for ourselves the empty grocery store shelves and the frightened looks in the eyes of our neighbours. Schools were shutting down and my husband was told to collect what he needed from the office and work from home until further notice.
There seemed to be a heavy cloud in the air, and everything around us suddenly felt different. Soon, the days turned into weeks, the weeks turned into months, and each day began to feel like, well, a blur. By mid-April, I had no idea what day it was anymore, the news felt like a bad dream, and each day, each headline faded into the next. We seemed to be living in an unfamiliar, hazy fog.
Because of the lockdown and the needs of my four suddenly-home children, I couldn’t get out to shoot. I felt unmotivated to shoot anything anyway. The world felt dark and cloudy. “Document what?” I thought to myself. “We’re just living the same day over and over in the same rooms, with the same light I have photographed hundreds of times.”
While some photographers were taking moody documentary images of empty grocery store shelves and others were trying to bring cheer by shooting front porch sessions for families, none of these seemed right for me. They had already been done and I wasn’t up to trying to find that one, new, undiscovered angle of an empty grocery shelf. To be honest, I didn’t even feel like bringing cheer to my friends and neighbours. The fog was creeping in, further and further. I felt uninspired, gloomy and lost.
And then, a few weeks into the lockdown, I walked by my Lensbaby. I bought it about five years ago, but never really could take any photos I liked with it. While I drooled over other artists’ dreamy, evocative images, I could never get a shot I was proud of. So, my Lensbaby sat like an ornament on my dresser, collecting dust.
That day, though, it suddenly hit me like a lightning bolt! The blur made possible by the Lensbaby was the perfect representation of the feeling I had about these indistinct days of COVID lockdown . . . when everything just felt like a foggy dream. Every day felt like a blur, and I could capture that. I decided right then and there to use the Lensbaby to document these muddled days of lockdown and isolation. I made a commitment to myself to shoot every day, with nothing but my Lensbaby, until I felt some sort of “normalcy” make its way back into our lives. The blurriness the lens created so accurately expressed how I felt about the long string of endless, indistinct moments.
For the first several days, maybe even a few weeks, I didn’t like anything I took with the Lensbaby. But I pushed through, forcing myself to continue to shoot at least once a day. Eventually, I started figuring out the unique lens and producing images that perfectly expressed the way our days felt. In the future, I know I’ll look back on the images my Lensbaby and I were able to capture, and will immediately be transported back to this strangest of years, the spring break that lasted months, and the lessons we learned when our lives, previously fast-paced and full of busyness, suddenly became a blur of stillness and uncertainty.
You can find Sunny here: