University of Nebraska-Lincoln
$5,000 Scholarship and Hearst Medallion
THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US . . Story synopsis: In quarantine, I did not have a lot of social interaction. Many of my friends went back to their homes far from my college, while I stayed behind to work a part-time job. One of the few people I had any interaction with was my girlfriend. I wanted to showcase not only my own struggles but the way quarantine affected our relationship in small but significant ways. We were always there for one another despite the distance between us. . . NOTE: I live by myself so the majority of these images were captured using a tripod and the interval timer on my Canon 5D Mark IV and Nikon D3. . . Kenneth Ferriera, the photographer, sits alone in his apartment after a bout of anxiety caused by feelings of helplessness, loneliness, and shame on Monday, June 1, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska. I live alone in a third floor, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 772 square feet apartment that overlooks the interstate heading to downtown Lincoln. I struggle with anxiety that at times leaves me unable to think clearly. Normally I would have friends over at my apartment, especially my girlfriend, Jenny Welsh, who I have been dating for over a year now. We had recently told each other "I love you" for the first time when the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. Suddenly she was an hour away and I couldn't see her or my friends as they all went home to their families. I stayed due to work and was left to my own devices. My anxiety worsened and feelings of hopelessness and worry would overtake me for hours. I would sit alone in my apartment where the only thing I would do was wait for someone to call. Every time without fail, the first person who would answer would be Jenny.
Kenneth Ferriera, the photographer, takes a shower to calm his nerves at his apartment on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Showers and baths have become a coping mechanism for me during the quarantine. A sort of ritual when anxiety and worries come up. Jenny will always recommend that do this to calm my nerves. Sometimes I sit there for an hour, other times for only a few minutes. As long as it takes for the feelings to wash away.
A late night text chain from May 24 between Kenneth Ferriera, the photographer, and Jenny Welsh lies next to a puzzle that was left unfinished due to quarantine on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Small everyday objects in my life suddenly took on new meanings. Puzzles are something that Jenny and I did while we drank coffee and talked about our days. Now that same puzzle sits unfinished, missing the pieces it needs to make it complete. Jenny has been the rock that supported me through everything. She is there for me when no one else has been. When I feel down she lifts me up, if my mind is in a dark place she has been the light that shows me a way out. Just speaking to her gives me back a little bit of the normality that has been taken from me.
Kenneth Ferriera, the photographer, holds Jenny Welsh in his arms early in the morning on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska. She drove three hours the previous night from her internship to come to see me. Jenny and I didn't see each other for over two months save for maybe a drive to Omaha when I was working. She had been in my life every day for close to a year and then one day she wasn't. When restrictions started to loosen in Nebraska, the first person I saw was her. Now, she will drive up to stay with me for a day, but we will end up doing nothing since everything around us is closed. It doesn't matter to us, we are just happy to see one another. Even if it is only for a few short hours. Just to hold her again is enough for me.
Kenneth Ferriera, the photographer (left), and Jenny Welsh sit with their legs up on the wall discussing plans for tomorrow on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Boredom is a constant battle in quarantine. Alone, it was nearly unbearable, but with someone else, it feels a bit more normal. Sometimes just being together in boredom is all we can ask for.
Kenneth Ferriera, the photographer, has his hair trimmed by Jenny Welsh on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Boredom can lead to some funny ideas. About a month after the pandemic hit Jenny asked if she could cut my hair. I held off for a while growing out my hair until I could go to the local Great Clips when it reopened. I walked out of there with possibly the worst haircut I've ever received. After some merciless and humorous tough love, I decided to let Jenny try to fix it. I helped her cut her hair a few months earlier so it seemed only fair.
Kenneth Ferriera, the photographer, dances with Jenny Welsh to their favorite music on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska. As life in Nebraska slowly reopens I've been able to see her more and more. Our late-night dances to love songs can finally continue, even if we are a little rusty. Life in Nebraska won't be normal for a little while, but that's okay. So long as we have each other that's all I need.