With the COVID-19 pandemic it became clear that we were living in unprecedented times. As an avid photographer I wanted to document in some way the times that we are living in. I briefly explained my project idea to the people I asked to photograph and left the interpretation to them of how they wanted to be represented in these times. These photographs are the result.

— Russ Taylor       

Marie McKinnon

Marie McKinnon is from Ohio and is a veterinarian turned bike mechanic. This has been a year of firsts for her. She volunteered for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race as a veterinarian at Unalakleet. She shot a gun for the first time in her life, went hunting for the first time and lives in her first dry cabin. She's seen here with one of her dogs, an English mastiff.

       

 

Photojournalist Russ Taylor

Photojournalist Russ Taylor took this self-portrait. He spent three seasons working with the National Park Service in Alaska. Last summer, he was in Glacier Bay and planned to return there this season. Meanwhile, he spent winter in the Interior, volunteering at KIAM radio station in Nenana. He loves sled dog races and traveled to Bethel for the Kuskokwim 300, and also attended the start of the Yukon Quest and Iditarod sled dog races. There's nothing like the Alaska culture, he said. He lost my job this summer at Glacier Bay when the cruise industry collapsed and is awaiting work with the park service in California. While he waits, he continues to volunteer at the radio station. And he photographs people throughout the Interior. "It gives my days some structure and purpose while I wait," he said.

Claire Dal Nogare

Claire Dal Nogare is a hardcore outdoors woman. Originally from Montana, she has hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail. She is waiting for her job to begin this summer as a seasonal park ranger. Last winter, she worked for the Northern Alaska Tour Company, driving busloads of tourists up to the Arctic Circle. Claire rode her bicycle to work every single day this winter, even when the temperature dropped to 40 degrees below zero. She also drove a sled dog team through Denali National Park to Wonder Lake. When asked to describe the best thing about that trip, she replied, "That I survived."

Rob and Jeannie Bennett

Rob and Jeannie Bennett of Nenana have been in Alaska for 15 years. Rob is a jack-of-all trades and has worked as a logger, fabricator, heavy equipment operator, mechanic and contractor. Jeannie is the chief financial officer for his business and works at KIAM Radio in Nenana. The hardest part of Covid-19 for her? "Not being able to hug my friends," she said. She made the masks they are wearing and has made many more masks for residents of Nenana.

Brandi Conrad

Brandi Conrad spent 14 years in the military and said it has not been hard to adjust to health mandates brought by the coronavirus. Her children are 3 years old and 11 months old. Her 3-year-old daughter undergoes speech therapy. Not being able to go to Head Start has been the toughest adjustment on the family. The girls’ father is a business owner in town and like a lot of businesses, he is struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris Russell

Chris Russell, originally from Utah, is an electrician from a family of electricians. Before settling into work, he spent a year as a ski bum, and a summer as a pike fishing guide. He is passionate about pike fishing and is an avid outdoorsman. He lives in a dry cabin in Fairbanks.

Mike Arena

Mike Arena lives in Interior Alaska, carrying on a tradition his father began decades ago. When Mike's father was stationed here in Alaska in 1953 , he and another airman launched a mission church in Nenana. During the 1970s, the pastor of that church decided to start a radio ministry. Sixty years later, Mike and his wife, Valerie, moved to Alaska from Georgia to continue the legacy that his father started. His life has changed little since the coronavirus. KIAM Radio is deemed an essential communications infrastructure and the station continues to broadcast.

Triston and Meghan Nyquist

Triston and Meghan Nyquist are leaving Nenana to move closer to family in Southeast Alaska and to await the birth of their first child. In the four years they lived in Interior Alaska, Triston earned a master's degree in secondary education and Meghan taught elementary students at Nenana City School. The community bid farewell with a heartfelt drive-by of friends in vehicles.