America Reimagined: Serving Through a Pandemic

A Collaboration Between

Boyd's Station and

American Reportage​

Serving Through a Pandemic

Standing outside the Iron Gate, a soup kitchen and food pantry in Tulsa, Okla., a hard rain fell. When it turned to hail, people experiencing homelessness and hunger crowded under a small overhang to avoid getting pelted. I stood with them. Other times I’ve covered the local shelters, I’ve always felt so much different than the people I was covering. On this day, my feelings changed, as I, too, was furloughed from my job as a staff photographer. 

I was scared about where the economy was heading and wondering how anyone was going to keep a job. I wasn’t going to eat when they started handing food out, but I felt kinship with the people I was waiting with. When I’d explain to them that I was furloughed from my job, everyone seemed to welcome me with open arms. They felt a kinship with me, too. Very few people told me, “no pictures.”

 When I found out I would have to furlough two weeks in the first quarter of 2020, I was upset and scared. In the end, I am glad I spent those two weeks furloughed. My family had money saved and never really struggled because of it, but I learned about need. I learned about how it feels to pull out your unemployment debit card at a gas station to pay for items. “Do people notice? Are they judging my purchases?” 

The experience will help me cover people with more dignity and compassion going forward.  

ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT Mike Simons/The Tulsa World

Mike Simons is a staff photographer at the Tulsa World

More from the Project

Photographer's Journal

Minneapolis Protests

Brooklynn Kascel investigates the psychological and sociological impacts felt in the communities that make up the Twin Cities following the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Photographer's Journal

Pandemic in Paradise

At the end of March, Honolulu resembled a dead city. With the “stay-at-home” order, people weren’t socializing as much. The Hawaii we were seeing then was the opposite of what anyone could picture from an earlier time.

ESSAY

Anchor Bar & Grill

The unsinkable Anchor Grill has re-opened in Covington, Ky., following closure in mid-March due to the state’s Covid-19 restrictions. Proud to call themselves a “dive,” and featuring an iconic neon sign that says “We May Doze But Never Close,” the eatery has remained open since 1946.

Essay

Cling-Wrap

This project chronicles Margo Reed’s view of the COVID-19 pandemic through a cling-wrapped camera lens.

Essay

Reflections

Reflections of the pandemic as seen by America Reimagined photographers.

Photographer's Journal

The Aftermath

Rod Lamkey Jr. writes about this impressions covering the aftermath of the forced removal of protesters near the White House on June 1, 2020.

Essay

Serving Through a Pandemic

Mike Simons covered the effects of thee Covid-19 Pandemic at the Iron Gate, largest stand-alone soup kitchen and grocery pantry in Tulsa.

Essay

Automobile Sanctuary

In the Covid-19 era, the vehicle has been elevated to a place of sanctuary, a vessel trusted to deliver security outside the home in insecure times.

ESSAY

Portraits in Quarantine

Portraits during the pandemic as photographed by America Reimagined photographers.

SPONSOR

The work done by American Reportage and Boyd’s Station would not be possible without the generous support from PhotoShelter, the official provider of both organization’s archive systems – powered PhotoShelter for Brands.

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AMERICA REIMAGINED

PROJECT CURATORS

Charlie Borst

Stephen Crowley

Cathaleen Curtiss

Nikki Kahn

Michael Keating

Molly Roberts