Documentary photographer, Ruddy Roye shares his experience photographing families in Brooklyn affected by COVID-19, adapting his approach through a new lens.

© Ruddy Roye

“For the past five weeks, I ‘ve been working on the fringes of what we have been going through globally – COVID-19 – and its impact on everyday life for all of us.

I’m hoping to make images that show our “new normal” and to show some of the impact that this virus has had on certain communities. Over these weeks, I have watched how certain communities have been affected by the implementation of the precautionary measures like social distancing, self quarantining and stay at home orders for non-essential workers.

My job as a photographer is to create a theme by taking different images that work together. Each image strengthen the narrative and so they all work in tandem to support the story I am working on.

Over the past five weeks, it’s been really hard making photographs. It’s been difficult looking at people out in the world, sometimes their world and viewing how differently our energies seem to be.

My lenses are usually between a 21mm and a 50mm – I hardly use anything longer. It means that I am close. My heart is literally and figuratively close to the people I photograph. When I was told to do a story about social distancing, I immediately started to think how far do I have to be to start making these images.

During this project, I’m using two different systems:
For color work, I’m using the Leica SL with a 50mm Noctilux for portraits. Otherwise,  I use the SL with a 28mm, 35mm and 80mm Leica R lenses. For black and white, I use the Leica Monochrom with a 21mm, 35mm, and 75mm lens.

It took me a long time to realize that my love for photography and the process of making pictures does not grow because of the images I take, but it is more about the relationships I forge while making the images. It’s all about the words and smiles that come back to me after they have transformed the lives they touch. To me, that  is everything. It is one of the reasons I get up to make images. I started telling stories as a young reporter in Jamaica working for a tabloid called the Western Mirror. Since then, I have always been attracted to storytelling and how it shapes narratives. For me the story is first – not the image. I first see a story, and I try to mine the images around it.”



“Every day is a fight in my mind. Adapting to the cadence of the streets has been my only way of reconciling what we all have been going through. Each day there is something new.” – Ruddy Roye

Learn how to adapt to an ever-changing social climate while still maintaining your creative integrity with Ruddy in his online #StayHomeWithLeica talk. Click the video to watch, or visit our YouTube channel here.