Faces and Fabric: Mississippi Mills during a pandemic
Photography by Ryan Gordon
This project evolved and changed throughout the pandemic. In the beginning it was simply a way to help with the boredom of a lockdown. I took advantage of the world in lockdown: I was a portrait and fashion photographer, and I had no previous experience shooting landscape photography, so I was practicing and experimenting with lighting, different weather, shadows, and textures. I was also going through a personal crisis, and the stillness, emptiness, and quietness of everything really reflected what was going on in my own life. When I look back at these photos 8 months later, I think they really express the mood of the times and what I was going through personally. The photos from the beginning of this series were never intended to be seen, they were simply practice shots. When I began to edit them, I noticed they were beautiful and painterly works. I posted them online never expecting that they would be so well received.
After the first images were complete, I finally felt I had a vision and a theme of what the work was going to represent. I wanted the photos to reflect beauty – beauty in a time when the world was uncertain, dark, people were dying, and the public was scared. I wanted my art to show that even in uncertain times there is beauty in the darkness. I looked to inspire with colour, light, crispness and clarity, creating contrast with the dark so that the light was able to shine through. And in the end, I wanted the theme – that art is everywhere, even in mundane, everyday life – to come through. You can still find beauty in the smaller things, in the boring everything things, and everything and everywhere can be art.
Ryan Gordon is a freelance photographer, graphic designer & social media specialist who creates eye catching and vibrant images from different points of view and perspectives. Born and raised in Perth, Ontario Ryan returned to Lanark County in 2019, settling in Mississippi Mills with his daughters Lily and Holly. After more than 15 years in Ottawa working in Funeral Services, he began a new career in Wedding planning and venue management at Aquatopia Conservatory.
At the beginning of 2020, Ryan started a social media passion project “I HEART Lanark County”. It is dedicated to showcasing the uniqueness and beauty of Lanark County’s most recognizable spots, from a unique perspective. Ryan works to capture creative and premium quality, high-energy images within different settings. His company, Ryan Gordon Photography, is dedicated to creating photographic memories that last a lifetime, whether of family, fashion, urban settings or portraits.
When the pandemic hit ubiquitous directional signage to guide and instruct the public in basic protocols was the new norm. Signs instructed the public to remain socially distanced (6 feet apart) and wear masks indoors. Coffee shops, grocery stores, post offices, and other businesses pasted signs and arrows, directing customers to proceed in a single file or one-way only. Public facilities such as parks were also closed or had restricted access.
Local Businesses Re-direct
One effect of the pandemic was the effect that social distancing restrictions had on the retail sector. Businesses had to act quickly to re-invent themselves to meet the needs of the public, offering alternate services, products and means of shopping through government mandated social distancing guidelines, opening online shops or increasing their web presence often with contact-less delivery and curb-side pick-up.
Signs of Thanks
Outpourings of gratitude, love, and encouragement were expressed to frontline workers everywhere. In Mississippi Mills the sentiments were demonstrated in various ways, from road signs, printed and hand-made posters, to messages in chalk and painted rocks placed inconspicuously on pathways.