Scrolling through @stayhomehumans on Instagram, you’ll see a collection of unfamiliar faces. But if you read the captions, you may end up recognizing more than you expect.
Canvas & Chardonnay co-owner Leah Bee created the account, which collects photos and stories from people sheltering at home, to “remind us all that we are not alone in our feelings.”
She also hoped the account would remind viewers to check in with their loved ones.
It started simply -- Bee reached out to people she knew, asking for self-portraits, which “look different for everyone.” She asked for captions describing life in quarantine, or a story about something that happened under the statewide stay-home order.
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brianna // minnesota 4.20.20 ✨ I was originally working reduced hours. I’m now on my second week of leave. It has been very strange...I was in a loud, cheery child-filled environment. Now home with my cats and navigating stillness. The spaces are filled with half-finished projects. My mind is brimming with new ideas while my body has insufficient energy to get them done (Thanks Endo/Fibro/Chronic Fatigue). Giving myself grace in those moments and focusing on self-care. Baths, playing my ukulele, snuggling my kitties, cooking, baking up a storm, FaceTiming friends, zooming family, going for walks, and listening to music. Participating in a decade makeup challenge with friends was a great distraction and a way to stay connected. My hope is for continued health and the return to a new normal. - @cecescollective
“There are no guidelines,” she said. “I want people to feel comfortable with what they share.”
The self-portraits have tended to broaden into scenes with family members or pets, or multiple photos of the self, the workspace, and/or current creative projects.
Bee also began accepting submissions by direct message to the Stay Home Humans account. She was surprised at how many people wanted to participate -- given the rate of daily submissions, she ended up posting around nine photos and captions a day.
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james // minnesota 4.17.20 ✨ Despite the chaos that has ensued lately, I’ve kept a very level head from beginning till now. It’s only human for us to have a day where we may not feel our best, or that the world may be crashing down on us. Just as everybody else, I miss the small things about what a normal day was, interactions with strangers, a quick compliment, or sharing short stories here and there in a line. My typical day has not been the same since I’ve been home. Some days I’ll be producing full on virtual shows ( Beats For Dinner ) or producing live stream DJ sets. Some days I’m looking at my fridge 5 times a day wondering what I’ll cook and order take out. I think like a lot of people, i tried to rush into accomplishing everything and wanted to have learn 5 new skills and be super productive. I slowed down and told myself it’s okay that “keeping busy” isn’t necessary and slowing down and not putting so much pressure on yourself is okay. If there may be any silver lining for this, it’s that we can all slow down and really think about simple interactions like hugging a friend, or seeing our parents that we take for granted on a daily basis. Also I’ve never drank so much wine in my life $3 a bottle at HyVee y’all. - @blackcoffeepapi . . . #stayhome #stayhomehumans #rochesterposse #rochesterartheads #stayhomeminnesota #aventientertainment
“I am surprised by how many people have submitted their stories, and how connected I feel to each of them just by reading their caption and seeing their chosen photo(s),” she said. Many people have reached out personally to say it has been helpful for them to check in with the page daily to read people’s stories. This brings me joy.”
The submissions have also been a fun challenge to sort through, Bee said -- and the Instagram account’s feed is intentionally curated to place vibrant shots next to darker ones.
“When anyone views the page, it looks as if all of the photos flow together and appear to be ‘working together,’” she said. “Just as we should all be. Working together.”
The account will continue until the submissions dry up, Bee added -- so far, both the number of submissions and the vulnerability many of the portraits volunteer have been interesting -- and beautiful, Bee said.
“If and when we are able to resume the busy lives we are used to, I hope we can all look back on this account as a reminder to take our time, to listen, and to pause before we judge how someone else experiences this wild and crazy life,” she said.
See more self-portraits -- and possibly submit your own -- at @stayhomehumans on Instagram.