I have been a professional photographer for over two decades. My photojournalism has been published across the country and in Europe. None of those images have meant as much as the one included in this story in Saratogian about the impacts school closures are having on students. I never thought I would publish a news image with my daughter as the subject. For me, it’s an image that has come to represent everything about COVID-19. Of the millions of exposures I’ve captured, I’ll never forget this one. It’s of a kid who cares deeply about school, her teachers, and her friends packing up her locker, which is now a time capsule of the world before. That was a world of basketball games, art projects, and school dances. It was a time before masks and gloves, charts tracking infection rates, and daily task force briefings. It was a world before we all lived in boxes in Zoom meetings and interacted in six-foot spheres.
As parents, we reinforce that caring in our children. What we don’t prepare them for something like COVID-19 that puts all those things we tell our kids to care about in a state of limbo. Not just one project, or event, or game. ALL of them. There is no reference guide to prepare them for things left unfinished. When I snapped this photo, there were so many uncertainties. There still are. We have learned so much since then, but we’ve lost much more.
I do hope they get to open their time capsules this school year.
A YEAR IN THE PARK: John Bulmer has been a professional photographer since 1999, but he and photography go back much further than that. His dad is a photographer, too, and John grew up with a darkroom in the basement and “endless hours’’ in a hunting blind with a camera waiting for a deer to come along or in a rowboat waiting for a beaver to surface. He remembers being bored to tears then. Now, he says, “I realize it taught me the patience that’s required to get past the obvious images and angles and capture something unique and memorable.’’ As a child, John discovered Grafton Lakes State Park, all 2,500 acres on the plateau between the Taconic and Hudson Valleys and came to know it well. “I have a long history with the park in every season and all sorts of weather conditions. All these years later, the park still shows me new things with each visit. I firmly believe our state parks and public lands are treasures that need to be protected and secured for future generations (and) compelling photography helps further that cause by highlighting the beauty and fragility of places like Grafton.’’ On average, John shoots in various locations like Grafton 40 to 50 times per year. He makes a special point to shoot in less-than-ideal weather conditions that present the opportunity to capture Grafton’s many moods. “Shooting a subject in all varieties of conditions and times of the day is an enduring lesson I learned in art school: It’s really the only way to tell the story of anything properly.” With pride, we present John Bulmer’s A Year in the Park.