Nobody needs to remind you that 2020 was at best an "off" year. By "off" I mean: "Off the road, slid past the ditch, in the trees, upside down while on fire, and what's with all the orangutans dressed like the Village People?" That kinda year. You, too? Yeah, I feel ya.
When I sit down to do these year-end reviews of the images that I made for CompanyWeek, it's always fun. I get to remember all the wonderful people that I've met and the amazing companies who are not just making our world but are often changing it as well. Good times. I also get to reflect on how those people and places in some way impacted me as a photographer and storyteller. I never go into an assignment with ideas in my head as to what I'm going to do: I go in with an open mind and let the images come to me from how it feels at the time. Looking back, it's interesting to see not just the images that I created, but also what kind of feelings I was having over the course of that year. Did there end up being a theme?
Yes. In a year when we have largely covered our faces to protect ourselves, we didn't initially realize that it would become hard to connect with our fellow humans because the part of the face where we express our thoughts and feelings was no longer visible. The eyes peering out from behind the masks show us some emotion, but often not enough to be able to understand the support, the humor, the uncertainty. I've said that since our voices are also rendered mumbly, many of us have become mimes to get our point across.
Looking back, it was obvious: It's in the hands -- the other great method of expression. That's what I was unknowingly drawn to in 2020. I found that I made a lot of photos that had hands doing interesting and often odd things. Even when I could see the faces, the hands were telling the story.
Jonathan Castner is CompanyWeek's chief photographer. Reach him at email@example.com.