Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 September 2020

How one Abu Dhabi photographer is documenting her children's lives at home during the pandemic

Chandramohan captures her children's moods in her stunning black and white 'Home Quarantine' series

In one of Vidhyaa Chandramohan’s photographs, a toy T-Rex looms from the bottom-right corner of the frame. Slightly out of focus, its jaws are open menacingly wide, its shadow cast on the wall by the doorframe.

A prank seems to be under way.

The bedroom is visible through the door. The bed is unmade, the swivel chair is away from its desk. A girl stands by the window, looking intently at the world outside. She is the focus of both the photograph and the prank, unsuspecting of the dinosaur her brother is aiming to spook her with.

“Indoor games are very common for the children during this stay-at-home phase,” Chandramohan says. The Indian editorial and documentary photographer, who lives in Abu Dhabi with her family, is working on a photo series documenting life during the pandemic.

A prank is under way. Vidhyaa Chandramohan
A prank is under way. Vidhyaa Chandramohan

Chandramohan’s children – Aaditya, 13, and Aishwarya, 10 – are the primary subjects of her Home Quarantine series, but their toys and games also play a prominent part.

“I bought dinosaurs for my son when he was 5 years old,” Chandramohan – whose photographs have been published across the region – says, adding that since the coronavirus outbreak, her children have started playing with them again.

“Since these characters have become part of daily life now, I thought of including them in the story. I have been documenting my children in the home environment and this series highlights time spent at home in quarantine during the coronavirus lockdown.”

While Chandramohan says she often shoots in colour for her work, she decided to take monochromatic pictures for Home Quarantine, to accentuate “contrast and add value to the story.”

“Sunlight is the only outsider visiting our home every day,” she says. “Through black and white pictures, we can play with shadows and highlight the deep tones.”

Vidhyaa Chandramohan, an editorial and documentary photographer who lives in Abu Dhabi with her family, is working on a photo series that documents life under the pandemic.Vidhyaa Chandramohan
Vidhyaa Chandramohan, an editorial and documentary photographer who lives in Abu Dhabi with her family, is working on a photo series that documents life under the pandemic.Vidhyaa Chandramohan

Chandramohan began working on the series after her ongoing photography projects – such as one documenting women falconers in the UAE – came to a standstill due to the pandemic. The photographer found herself restless, adding that her sleep cycle had been disrupted. Her children, too, were going through their own bouts of anxiousness and were eager to return to school and play outside with their friends.

Their discomfort was expressed through tantrums and nightmares, Chandramohan says. They were unable to concentrate on their studies and began feeling melancholic.

Vidhyaa Chandramohan's children playing football in the living room of their Abu Dhabi flat. Vidhyaa Chandramohan
Vidhyaa Chandramohan's children playing football in the living room of their Abu Dhabi flat. Vidhyaa Chandramohan

“I suddenly found myself witnessing all this happening at home. So I was moved to document their moments during lockdown,” Chandramohan says. “The Covid-19 pandemic wrapped our lives in layers of uncertainty and anxiety. It’s not just my children who are going through this. Many are experiencing the same situation around the world. They understand the severity of Covid and adapting to the situation.”

However, the pandemic also presented an opportunity for Chandramohan and her children. While their mother was working on Home Quarantine, Aishwarya began learning videography, while Aaditya has taken up drawing, signing up to online courses to learn the craft, as well as playing football at home.

Chandramohan says she hopes when her children see the photo series years later, it “will bring back great memories and show them how they have [lived through] this period and appreciate that I’ve recorded this important moment of them.”

Chandramohan says hopes to show the photographs in local exhibitions in the future. And for her next project, she’d like to shed light on the dangers and safety hazards of littering gloves and masks in the streets. “It’s annoying and dangerous,” she says. “As bad as spreading the virus.”

Updated: June 22, 2020 10:35 PM

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