How four Ontario photographers found purpose during the pandemic through their cameras

When the pandemic struck in early 2020, many photography enthusiasts picked up their cameras to turn their lenses on their towns and surrounding areas, to get outside, stay busy and find purpose during a difficult time. Here are portraits of four of them and a look at some of their photographs.

Ian Virtue, Windsor

Windsor photographer Ian Virtue turned to his love of photography after he lost his job due to COVID-19.

This ultimately led him to create The Windsor Project, a series of photos showcasing Windsor-Essex.

“I went from not really knowing what I wanted to do or what direction things were going to go in, to finding purpose and finding a direction when we’re at a time when we’re not really sure how things are going to turn out,” Virtue said.

Babar Khan, Mississauga

Babar Khan, a Wilfrid Laurier University student from Mississauga, decided to transform his photography hobby into a job when COVID-19 put life on hold.

He started selling prints and offering editing workshops. 

One of his favourite sets during the pandemic was a star-gazing series. 

“All four of those images were shot during the pandemic in about late March, early April,” he said. 

“It took dozens of hours to create those images, but it was the most satisfying thing.”

Jason O’Young, Huron County

Jason O’Young, an amateur photographer from Huron County, Ontario, turned to his camera when the pandemic put a temporary pause on his work as a dentist.

He decided to hone his skills and spend more time with his favourite hobby. 

“I went from having no purpose at all to kind of having goals, you know?” he said.

“Especially during the pandemic … the comet came around, and so that provided a good month of solid entertainment, planning, and just, something to look forward to.”

Nick Zook, Red Lake

Living in northwestern Ontario, Nick Zook picked up his camera during the pandemic to capture the beauty of Red Lake and the surrounding areas, so he can share it with others — especially those unable to visit during the pandemic. 

“It’s very calming,” he said of his hobby. 

“It’s very relaxing and that’s how I relax here, especially during a stressful time, is to be able to go out there, take a breath, and look at what’s around you.”

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