Fine Art Photography Daily

Covid Projects: Billy Hickey: How We Were

Rob Hickey, 64, looks out the front door window as Alex Hickey, 23, lays on the couch in Arlington, MA., April 16, 2020. The Hickey family was brought back together in late March and forced to quarantine together when Alex, an oncology nurse tested positive for Covid-19 in early April.

?Billy Hickey, Rob Hickey, 64, looks out the front door window as Alex Hickey, 23, lays on the couch in Arlington, MA., April 16, 2020. The Hickey family was brought back together in late March and forced to quarantine together when Alex, an oncology nurse tested positive for Covid-19 in early April.

I had the great pleasure of? meeting Billy Hickey at the ICP Virtual Portfolio Reviews in 2020. During the reviews, he shared a personal project, How We Were, born of events created by the pandemic when he returned home to Massachusetts for an appointment, only to find that he needed to stay put. It’s never easy to return to the familial home once you are officially launched into the world, but eventually he realized that documenting family during this historic time was as important as documenting strangers in other parts of the world. The photographs reveal a family trying to learn how to share space again, this time as adults, with a need to seek solitude and comfort in small things.

Billy Hickey is a documentary and conservation photographer from Massachusetts. His work focuses on stories that take place where humans and nature collide. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst with a Bachelor’s of Science in Kinesiology and before arriving in photography, Hickey worked with visually impaired children, volunteered across New Zealand and traversed the U.S. in a camper van documenting the highest nature points in over 25 states. In 2020 he graduated from the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism Program at the International Center of Photography in New York City. His work has been featured by Fotodemic, Ostkreuzschule fu?r Fotografie (OKS), Berlin and B&H Explora Blog. He is currently based in Massachusetts and is available for assignments. @ahickeysituation

Sandi (l) washes her car, while Alex (m) and Rob (r) watch from the front steps in Arlington, MA. May 2, 2020.

?Billy Hickey, Sandi (l) washes her car, while Alex (m) and Rob (r) watch from the front steps in Arlington, MA. May 2, 2020

How We Were

I have moved away from home many times, but I always seem to return. I stay for a spell, saving up money for my next journey, whether it was flying to New Zealand and living out of a station wagon with one of my best friends or embarking on a journey to hike the high point in each state in the contiguous U.S. This time I was chasing a new dream, fully committing to something after drifting around for most of my adult life. I was moving to New York to go to school for photography; things were going well, I met cool people from every corner of the earth, I was navigating through an intimidating new place, and I was reveling in the uplifting feeling of learning about something you truly enjoy. Then March happened. A trip home for an appointment became a permanent stay. I was ripped away from my new life in New York, a plant plucked before it blossomed. My New York roommates were replaced with the familiar habits of my parents and sister.

Around early April I started photographing our experience. Shortly after my sister, an oncology nurse, tested positive for the virus. We were quarantined together for the next few months, a family reunited in increasingly surreal circumstances in a house that has never felt so small. A tale of love and uncertainty, “How We Were” is a documentation of the strange quirks and mundane repetition of our lives together during a global pandemic as normal life seemed to crumble apart.

Alex, looks at here laptop while quarantined in her room after testing positive for CoVid-19. April 5,2020, Arlington, MA.

?Billy Hickey, Alex, looks at here laptop while quarantined in her room after testing positive for CoVid-19. April 5,2020, Arlington, MA.

Self Portrait of Billy Hickey, 29, in the Hickey's backyard on April 25,2020, Arlington, MA.

?Billy Hickey, Self Portrait of Billy Hickey, 29, in the Hickey’s backyard on April 25,2020, Arlington, MA.

Alex Hickey, 23, poses for a portrait inside the front window of the Hickey household in Arlington, MA, April 11, 2020. Alex works as a nurse at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in nearby Burlington, Massachusetts.

?Billy Hickey, Alex Hickey, 23, poses for a portrait inside the front window of the Hickey household in Arlington, MA, April 11, 2020. Alex works as a nurse at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in nearby Burlington, Massachusetts.

Sandi and Rob look down at a laptop while celebrating Sandi’s sister’s birthday over Zoom in their kitchen, Arlington, MA, April 17, 2020. Video calls and meetings took up much of the family’s days as a way of attending class and communicating with friends and family.

?Billy Hickey, Sandi and Rob look down at a laptop while celebrating Sandi’s sister’s birthday over Zoom in their kitchen, Arlington, MA, April 17, 2020. Video calls and meetings took up much of the family’s days as a way of attending class and communicating with friends and family.

Sandi reaches out to grab her drink while taking a bath in Arlington, MA. May 10, 2020

?Billy Hickey, Sandi reaches out to grab her drink while taking a bath in Arlington, MA. May 10, 2020

Alex (l) rolls her eyes at her brother's photography antics, while Sandi (m) gives Rob (r) a haircut in the upstairs bathroom, April 9, 2020, Arlington, MA.

?Billy Hickey, Alex (l) rolls her eyes at her brother’s photography antics, while Sandi (m) gives Rob (r) a haircut in the upstairs bathroom, April 9, 2020, Arlington, MA.

Sandi stretches in the living room. Arlington MA, May 1, 2020. The family would use various rooms around the house as gyms, offices, movie theaters and more.

?Billy Hickey, Sandi stretches in the living room. Arlington MA, May 1, 2020. The family would use various rooms around the house as gyms, offices, movie theaters and more.

The Hickey family, including Billy Hickey (right), 30, watches a movie while keeping their distance. Arlington, MA, April 10, 2020.

?Billy Hickey, The Hickey family, including Billy Hickey (right), 30, watches a movie while keeping their distance. Arlington, MA, April 10, 2020.

Surrounded by laundry, tools, and workout equipment Rob works out while watching a film in the unfinished storage room of the house's basement. The Hickey household felt incresingly small as the family of four adults spent week after week sharing the space. Arlington, MA, June 30, 2020.

?Billy Hickey, Surrounded by laundry, tools, and workout equipment Rob works out while watching a film in the unfinished storage room of the house’s basement. The Hickey household felt incresingly small as the family of four adults spent week after week sharing the space. Arlington, MA, June 30, 2020.

Rob (l) and Sandi (r) embraces in their backyard in Arlington, MA, May 20, 2020.

?Billy Hickey, Rob (l) and Sandi (r) embraces in their backyard in Arlington, MA, May 20, 2020.

Alex waves goodbye after filling her car with gas in Lexington Massachusetts, April 13, 2020. After being tested negative for coronavirus twice, Alex was cleared to return to work.

?Billy Hickey, Alex waves goodbye after filling her car with gas in Lexington Massachusetts, April 13, 2020. After being tested negative for coronavirus twice, Alex was cleared to return to work.

Rob Hickey looks out the bathroom window, Arlington, MA. May 17, 2020

?Billy Hickey, Rob Hickey looks out the bathroom window, Arlington, MA. May 17, 2020

The silhoutte of a nearby window shines above the glowing plastic stars that decorate the Hickey's stairwell.Arlington, MA. May 1, 2020. Life has continued on for the Hickey family through the uncertainty of a global pandemic, life is still strange and continues changing, but the family looks back on the strange circumstances of their reunion in quarantine as an unexpected opportunity to spend time with those we love most.

?Billy Hickey, The silhoutte of a nearby window shines above the glowing plastic stars that decorate the Hickey’s stairwell.Arlington, MA. May 1, 2020. Life has continued on for the Hickey family through the uncertainty of a global pandemic, life is still strange and continues changing, but the family looks back on the strange circumstances of their reunion in quarantine as an unexpected opportunity to spend time with those we love most.

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