"I woke up on the morning of Thursday April 23rd, 2020 around 8:00AM and began my morning routine. When I opened up the These Streets Instagram, I went to the Discover page to see if there were any interesting stories that have been shared online. I came across David Lopez, a filmmaker from Los Angeles, and a video that he produced about his experience with CoVid-19. His video struck a cord." - Josh
“This pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways, but for my mom it hit very close to home” – David Lopez
"I had the pleasure of speaking with David via Zoom. The following is a transcript of the video call with David." - Josh
David - “This was probably one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do filming. I tried to process everything as far as trying to say goodbye to my grandmother via FaceTime, and trying not to choke up to be strong for my mom. My mom was my grandmother’s caretaker, and the last time they saw each other was in early March. I assume that my grandmother contracted the virus at some point during the month in the convalescent home she lived at. We didn’t have the opportunity to go see her due to the high risk of ourselves contracting the virus as well.”
Josh - It must have been extremely difficult to document this experience. What was your thought process during that moment?
David - “The closest experiences to this that I have documented before was the passing of my late great aunt’s funeral service. She was 93 years old and had passed away from cancer. I photographed the ceremony. It was a bit surreal because from one side you are grieving for a family member, and on the other you are trying to document and take photographs to tell a good story.
Early that day, my mother’s brother had received a phone call from the hospital asking if he would like to say his final goodbyes. Since he lives alone, he had asked my mother if I could document the moment she said her goodbyes. We ended up finding out that first nurse who gave us a call did us a favor. When other members of my family wanted to call, the nurses attending her at the time were not allowing anymore FaceTime calls.”
Josh - Can you describe when you began photographing and when did you take on being a photographer professionally?
David – “I began photographing about 8 years ago. I had gone on a family trip to Big Bear for Christmas. Being away from the city for the week was a nice tranquil experience, and I just started to take pictures. When I got back home, I bought a little point and shoot to get me started, and as time developed I moved on to purchasing my first DSLR. A friend of mine, Javier Cabral, was a West coast editor for Vice Munchies and had given me the opportunity to photograph events for him. And from then on I started doing this professionally.”
Josh - You mentioned at the end of your video that documenting touchy subjects like this experience could be difficult, can you elaborate more? Why do you think it’s important to photograph and document moments like the one in your video?
David - “It’s one of those things that, yes, it is a very uncomfortable subject. I’ve been seeing the people who I follow online taking in the whole pandemic and quarantine situation and how it has affected their lives, but no one has really talked about the elephant in the room. The fact is that people are dying while people actively deny the existence of this whole thing.
And so, as a filmmaker, photographer, creative, if you are going to document something, whether it’s a touchy subject or not, I think it’s your responsibility to share some form of a meaningful story. That way, people can see it and interpret it in the way they want to interpret it. Unfortunately, people are going to form their own views and opinions on certain things, and we are unable to control that. If we are able to present a story from a neutral standpoint, I think we can get the conversation started on comprehending the situation more down the line.”
Josh - I really love that, I myself stress that concept to anyone who I speak with about photography, that when documenting something you approach it from an unbiased perspective, and I really commend you for that. I think it’s really powerful to document that experience.
David – “I have a lot of friends and family that have been sharing and expressing on social media platforms that this pandemic is all a hoax, or that they are in support of all of the protests going on about lifting the Stay-at-Home order. I felt like I had an obligation, a civil responsibility to say, it’s okay to have your opinions on things, and there is a time and place for that, but we should take this situation seriously. If we continue to express that we are in a much worse scenario that it really is, who’s to say that because of civil disobedience we might actually move into that state. It’s just one of those things, that I had to really share my experience.
When my father passed away 4 years ago, we were still able to visit him at the hospital, and see and be there for him. It was a whole different experience, but now since the CoVid-19 outbreak, we weren’t able to do the same for my grandmother.
CoVid-19 has affected not only those who have contracted the virus, but also everyone else around them.”
Josh - Definitely, these times have really showed us how interconnected we are in every aspect. How were you able to keep your composure while producing this film?
David - “What I have to say may sound a bit morbid. 2016 was the year that my father passed away. Shortly after, I had connected with an old photography mentor who later passed away on Father’s Day. In a sense, it was like the universe salting up my wounds a little bit. A few weeks after that was when my great aunt passed away from cancer. In the last 4 years, I have attended several funerals of loved ones, and I feel like that whole process made me kind of numb to the experience of what you would normally go through when someone passes away.
When my father passed, of course, I was devastated, but all of these experiences have made me more mentally resilient. So, when this whole ordeal started and I filmed the conversation with my mom talking to my grandmother over FaceTime, it was very jarring, but I wanted to be strong for my mother. I wanted to focus on capturing the raw expression as everything started to happen.
Initially I didn’t want to pick up my camera that day, with my mom grieving over her loss. My mother and I were having breakfast that morning and even though she was in a state of grief she asked me to document the whole thing. In the process of grieving, she mentioned to me that there is a story that we need to share with people. It is unfortunate that we won’t be able to give my grandmother a proper funeral arrangement.”
Josh - You mentioned in your video that you have a message to share with everyone. What is it you’d like to say to those who are reading this article?
David – “I just want for people to really understand the severity of this whole situation. This is a serious thing. This isn’t a joke, a hoax, or a government conspiracy. People are dying and unfortunately my grandmother is now one of those people that is now a statistic to the numbers of people who have died from CoVid-19. This is a serious matter, don’t let what you are reading online warp your perspective on reality. This is real life. Please take it seriously and just be respectful to the people that are in the process of grieving.”
FOLLOW DAVID LOPEZ ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Instagram - @canon.dude
Youtube - David Lopez