Photo Journaling

Photographs can capture the world around you and help tell the story of your experiences. For some people it may even be the best way for them to express themselves. A photo journal would be an excellent way to document your life during the pandemic, showing how things have changed for you, how you have been able to meet everyday challenges, or what you do as you go through the day.

Photo journals can be physical or digital. To help keep the record of your photographs in either format, try to label each one with the date it was taken, the location, who or what is in the photograph, and other pertinent information. Looking back at your journal years from now, that kind of information will be extremely valuable.

Some ideas to help get you started photo journaling:

  • Choose a theme or mood to help tell a consistent story.
  • Take photographs of a person or item over a certain time period.
  • Take pictures of changes in your community.

The images below were taken by various New York State Library staff members throughout the pandemic.

Spaces and Places

empty parking lot in front of Regal Cinema (Clifton Park, NY)


The parking lot at the Regal movie theater in Clifton Park, NY, is completely empty on a Saturday afternoon.

SEFCU bank with lines of cars for the drive-through teller extending around the building.


Lines for drive-through banking wrap around the SEFCU building in Clifton Park, NY.

Drooping tulip in empty park with moses statue in background

Albany's annual Tulip Festival was without crowds of spectators due to a ban on large public gatherings to help stop the spread of the virus.


fabric mask, scissors, pin cushion and other sewing supplies on a cutting mat


Many people began sewing fabric masks, for themselves and others in their families and communities.

Instructions for DIY masks on shop counter

Instructions for DIY masks on the counter of a store.

Sign on brick wall with two healthcare workers: Health Care Heroes - Not all heroes wear capes.


Poster in front of Albany Medical Center honoring all healthcare workers.

Blue door with a hand-made sign: Thank you for delivering our mail! Hero.


Sign taped to a door to thank the mail carrier.

window with thank you notes for donations from local businesses

Thank you notes to local businesses who donated masks to grocery workers.

Painted wall inside museum lobby thanking essential workers, small busienesses, and Governer Cuomo

A big thank you poster for essential workers and Governor Cuomo in the empty lobby of the New York State Museum.

518 Rainbow Hunt

The 518 Rainbow Hunt started as a Facebook group in mid-March of 2020, as families in the Capital District region of New York started working and learning from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The “518” comes from the local area code. It was originally conceived as a fun way to get out-of-school kids outdoors by participating in a neighborhood scavenger hunt for hand-made rainbow images that members of the Facebook group were posting online, using the hashtag #518rainbowhunt. It quickly spread to other social media platforms and inspired people around the world to participate in the scavenger hunt within their own communities.

A hite porch with a home-made banner over the railing that has a rainbow and the words Rainbow Hunt


Rainbow hunt banner on a house, Albany, NY.

Store window of Sheehy Opticians with a rainbow where each row of color is made from colored cutouts in the shape of eyeglases.


Rainbow "glasses" in the window of Sheehy Opticians, Albany, NY.

Part of the Hilton Garden Inn, with a rainbow that spans three windows.


Rainbow in the windows of the Hilton Garden Inn, Albany, NY.

Entrance to a colorful Victorian house, with a rainbow painted on the walkway and in mosaic on the stair risers.


Rainbows on the walkway and stairs of the Albany Art Room.

Rainbow drawn on the ground in chalk.


Rainbow drawn on the ground to help with social distancing at the Tastee-Freeze in Delmar, NY.

518 Rainbow Hunt sign on deli meat counter

Rainbow behind the counter at a Price Chopper deli in Latham, NY.

rainbow colored ribbon weaved through fence in front of marble building

A rainbow ribbon weaved through the fence outside the Swan Street Building on Madison Avenue.

Celebrating Holidays

A sign in the shape of a large dark blue egg, decorated with lighter blue and pink handprints and the number 5.


With no large gatherings allowed, Easter was celebrated a little differently this year.

Lawn decoration of two striped eggs, with chicks just hatching, on either side of the number 7.


The Cobleskill United Methodist Church sponsored a new twist on the traditional Easter egg hunt - the Cobleskill Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.

Front door with a spring wreath above a large white egg with bunny whiskers and the number 74.


Over 80 houses and business throughout the village of Cobleskill put homemade eggs up in front of their houses and families wandered the village looking for the eggs.

Grocery Shopping in the Time of COVID

Entrance door to a supermarket, with a signs about policies in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Instructions on the door of the Price Chopper supermarket in Guilderland, NY.

The aisle of a grocery store, with empty shelves.


No toilet paper to be had!

Partly empty grocery shelves, with several packages of toilet paper at the end of the section.


Lucky day - today there's toilet paper in stock!

Sign on shelf of cleaning products limiting the number each customer can purchase to one per day.


Cleaning supplies were often hard to obtain, too.







Round sign on the floor of a grocery store asking customers in line to 'please wait here/practice social distancing'


Sign on the floor of Hannaford supermarket (Round Lake, NY) encouraging social distancing when checking out.

Line of customers 6 feet apart waiting to go into a store

Social distance being practiced in a line outside of Trader Joe's.

farmers market with masked shoppers and 6 feet apart signs

Farmers markets regulated to outside spaces and vigilant protective practices.

Signs of the Times

Sign: Please line up along bldg and space out 6' between each other. Only 1 person per family in store.


Sign outside bakery (Clifton Park, NY), directing people to line up six feet apart and limit the number of people entering the store.


Sign at the Tastee Freeze in Delmar, NY, thanking people for practicing social distancing while waiting in line.

Sign: Face covering required.


Sign at Staples (Clifton Park, NY) noting that customers entering the store are required to wear face coverings.

sign describing proper social distancing etiquette

Sign on the door of Staples (Clifton Park, NY) describing social distancing procedures.

Signs in glass window of cardiology building

Sign on the door of Albany Associates In Cardiology requiring appointments and non-patients to wait outside.

Last Updated: August 6, 2020