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Until Further Notice: Photographer John Saponara Documents Coronavirus Face Shield Production at Duggal Greenhouse

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Until Further Notice: Photographer John Saponara Documents Coronavirus Face Shield Production at Duggal Greenhouse

First, it was one cancellation.

Then, another…and another…and another…

Soon, all of his freelance gigs were gone, and New York City was entirely shut down.

When photographer John Saponara found himself out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic, he immediately jumped at the opportunity to pick up an interesting and timely job that a friend had suggested: producing face shields with Bednark Studio and Duggal Visual Solutions. The two Brooklyn Navy Yard companies were able to quickly shift their production lines from printing and graphics to personal protective equipment (PPE) in what NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio described as a “wartime factory” at Duggal’s Brooklyn venue, the Duggal Greenhouse.

Saponara showed up to the Greenhouse and was hired on the spot, along with more than 200 people who have since produced more than 500,000 face shields for New York healthcare facilities and first responders. The workers come from all corners of the city and all walks of life, comprising an inspiring and dedicated team that is making things better together. In the process, Saponara is capturing each of their unique backgrounds and personalities with his camera in a series aptly titled, “Until Further Notice.”

 

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“Until Further Notice” Misha, normally a fine art printer with @duggalnyc 4/1/2020 (And My new favorite human) Yesterday we fabricated 26,400 shields. We now average over 25k face shields per day. Less than two weeks ago the companies now involved in fabricating face shields at the @bklynnavyyard facilities of @duggalnyc thought they would have to shut down and lay off all their employees because they weren’t considered an essential business. So they transformed themselves into an ESSENTIAL BUSINESS. They now are helping docs and medical personnel on the frontline with essential #PPE #workerpowered #work #oneofus #coronaportraits #faceshields #coronavirusnyc #ppeshortage #hospitalhero #brooklynnavyyard #freelancerlife #dowhatwecando #untilfurthernotice #coronanyc #stayhome #socialdistancingnyc #quarantinelife #bednarkstudio #dugall #ppe #medicalequipment #faceshields #stayhome #healthcareheroes #newlab #covid19nyc #solidarity #workersoftheworldunite #heroesinaction

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“My general inclination is to always bring a camera,” Saponara said in a Zoom interview from the Greenhouse. “I just started going around to people, mainly during lunch, to snap a photo and learn what they were doing normally before being here.”

His first photo featured a muralist named Jess with paint-splattered pants. Next, an insurance investigator named Matt, a designer named Greta, a makeup artist named Steph, and many others.

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“When you can’t see someone’s mouth and most of their face, it’s hard to tell whether they’re laughing or smiling, but you can see it in their eyes,” Saponara wrote on Instagram. He explained further on Zoom:

“Everything has to be communicated through your eyes. It’s the new norm we’re living – seeing people through their eyes, because we can’t see their face.”

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We can tell you first-hand that John’s ongoing series has been both a team-builder at work and a reminder of how photography builds human connection in life. Follow along on his website, Instagram, and in the video interview below.