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Here is a visual tribute to the humanity of the heroes and victims, often one and the same, who have been at the New York City epicenter of the war against the Covid-19 invisible enemy over the past two months. As a documentary photographer, over the past forty years I have covered so many major news stories of geopolitical importance, including most wars and conflicts. I have been a nomad over those four decades, rarely spending more than two or three weeks in one place, then, in March, I found myself in New York City when the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed, and I was unable to travel. On the first day of lockdown, I did what was most natural to me: I went out into the city with my camera. I was stunned and shaken by what I saw. I realized that this was the first time I was going to witness a war on an invisible enemy “at home.” It became clear that this was going to impact every single person, that every person had a story. I immediately began a daily New York lockdown visual diary.

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I go out almost every day with my camera and notebook, wearing a mask and gloves, keeping a careful distance from everyone, and I return to where I am staying, alone. I have felt that it is essential to document the human stories of the moment, the stories of the people I encounter, and these in turn are also, in part, our story. The documentation has been personal. I have kept the visual diary published almost every day on social media, and receiving responses worldwide. Ironically, while this has not been part of a professional assignment, in many ways everything that has preceded, in the 64 years of my life and as a photojournalist, has prepared me to be present and document, with my heart, what has been for so many of us, a most important story in our lives. At this moment in our life, it is essential that the stories of so many heroes and victims, of all dimensions, be documented, helping bring us together now, and for memory. New York City, one of the epicenters of the coronavirus, is a city of human beings, each with a name and age, each with a life experience, each with a family, and all, like every one of us, more important than any statistics, peaks or flattened curves. They are the heart and soul of this moment, and the heart and soul of our moment. While these images and stories are from New York, they are in solidarity with every country in the world and every person in the world, all fighting against an invisible enemy. Our human family worldwide has found itself in the middle of the crisis. This visual diary is also our story.

Peter Turnley
NYC, June 3, 2020

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Peter Turnley

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