The New Now

Close-up of a person's face, partially lit by sunlight through a window

One of the goals of the course “Journalism 435: Photojournalism III,” says SF State Associate Professor of Journalism Kim Komenich, is giving students real-world experience behind the camera. “It’s supposed to get them more out of the classroom and into the field to do a story on someone out there somewhere,” says the Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist. So what do you do when “out there somewhere” — the world at large — is mostly off limits thanks to pandemic lockdowns? For 15 students in Komenich’s J435 class in the spring, the answer was to begin documenting the stories they could access. The ones they were living.

The students shifted gears from individual projects to a team effort aimed at capturing their day-to-day realities. The result: a webpage (designed largely by class member Paige Acosta with input from the rest of the group) and video (edited by class member Harika Maddala, above) filled with stunning photos and heartfelt descriptions of the ups and downs of going to college when you can’t actually go anywhere.

“Our purpose was to use our skills as storytellers to show what was going on,” says senior Journalism major Saylor Nedelman. “We knew those initial moments [of the pandemic] were important because the change was so abrupt, and we wanted to capture it in a unique light.”

Some of the students’ work can be seen here. More can be found on the webpage created by the J435 students.

Person using laptop on a bed
Person using smartphone on a bed

“[In the beginning of the lockdown] I used to stay in bed all day, all night, watching TV series on my phone, eating, texting friends, attending classes. I would get out of bed only to take a shower or cook. It was so unhealthy.”

—Harika Maddala

“My family has always been particularly close, but now that everyone is home all the time we have been finding new ways to bond and have fun together.”

—Maddison October

Two people using laptop computers facing a window

Woman smiling in front of a birthday cake with balloons in background
Small circular mirror with reflection of a person holding a camera

“Our original project was to shoot a social documentary photo story in our community. When the pandemic hit we had to change plans. I like that we turned it into something personal.”

—Saylor Nedelman


Overherhead shot of a person adjusting their headphones while on a laptop

“Living at home alone and removing all social interaction has forced me to spend my days in my head. I constantly look for creative outlets as my eyes refuse to stare at a screen anymore.”

—William Wendelman

Dog sticking its head through couch cushions

Person checking phone in front of the Golden Gate Bridge at night