A Young Fashion Photographer’s Intimate FaceTime Portraits

In the book “Couples and Loneliness,” from 1999, Nan Goldin reflects on the years she spent taking pictures of her friends, a band of queer couples, drag queens, and misfit artists who inhabited downtown Manhattan in the nineteen-seventies and eighties. By the time of her writing, many of her subjects had died of AIDS. “I used to think that I could never lose anyone if I photographed them enough,” she wrote. “In fact, my pictures show me how much I’ve lost.” It’s a powerful compulsion—to take photographs of our loved ones in order to hold them close—and it hasn’t gone away during these months when we cannot physically be together. Take the recent work of Heather Glazzard, a twenty-five-year-old artist based in London, who has been taking remote portraits of their friends using FaceTime. Glazzard, who uses the pronouns “they” and “them,” is from Yorkshire, in the north of England, but, when the pandemic arrived in the U.K., they decided to stay in London with their girlfriend, Nora. They had a kind of family in the city to look after: a community of young L.G.B.T.Q. people, many of whom Glazzard had met while shooting a series from 2018, “Queer Letters,” in which they captured their subjects alongside notes to their younger selves.


Before the coronavirus pandemic, Glazzard had been shooting regularly for the British magazine i-D and had done their first editorial for Vogue Italia. “At the start of the year, I felt like my career was just taking off,” they told me. In March, as their gigs evaporated, they had the idea to start a personal project, shooting their friends remotely—“an adaptation to the times.” The first portrait they made was of a friend named Alice, who showed up for her digital session wearing a frilly pink cotton dress. Glazzard asked Alice to take them on a virtual tour of her mother’s Glasgow apartment, before settling on shooting in the bedroom. “If I was there, it would be the same, scoping out the light and backgrounds,” they said. The resulting image is starkly composed—with Alice perched on her bed, staring directly at the lens from behind angular brown bangs—but it also has a sense of humor about its formal constraints. Glazzard left their desktop background visible at the edges of the frame; in the upper right-hand corner, per FaceTime’s formatting, a small box shows a reflection of Glazzard, their hair close-cropped and bright orange, with Nora beside them.

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