The Quarantine Diaries, Memphis

A revealing series of self portraits during the quarantine

On Monday, March 23, 2020, in the first of many safety precautions responding to the oncoming Coronavirus, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland issued the “Safer at Home” shelter-at-home executive order that directed all Memphis residents to stay inside their homes unless “absolutely necessary to take care of essential needs.”

From all over Memphis people from all walks and disciplines adjusted to a new way of life, almost entirely from home: teaching, working, holding online meetings, coping. Through it they experienced varied reactions to the isolation, some sinking into depression, or some struggling with sobriety, loneliness, unemployment, or simply in maintaining a normal diet and a healthy lifestyle. Still others have been trapped in already-difficult situations of various levels of domestic abuse, made worse in isolation.

But others found outlets to share their isolation – a kind of DIY therapy – and tapped into creative ways to express their separation from the outside world, choosing to reveal parts of themselves to the online world they might not have been comfortable with before the world shut its doors. Some gave us glimpses of their family life indoors. Some presented stark images of their deepest fears. Others dressed up, posed and photographed themselves recreating famous masterworks like the Mona Lisa, or created parodies with Covid props. Nude selfies, already a thing, took on deeper meanings.

With this profile series we have captured a sampling – Memphians willing to share their quarantine diaries. Compiled from submitted stories and various contributors, this series gives us snapshots of a variety of voices around the city and presents a part of the narrative that is the ever-changing landscape of 2020. These profiles were photographed and written during the spring months when we were first introduced to the virus, when the city was in full lock down, and before much of our focus shifted, appropriately, to this new civil rights movement. StoryBoard is currently editing our compiled snapshot stories for publication – we are also collecting more stories for as long as the pandemic continues.

Edited by Kristin Jones and Mark Fleischer

If you’d like to submit your snapshot, please write to or use this link for consideration.

The Quarantine Diaries, Memphis

“I thought it would be temporary.”

By Miosha Williams

When the quarantine first began I thought it would be temporary. I didn’t realize the effect it would have on both my specialty cake business, and more importantly, my children’s lives, the way it did. 

“I hope we never forget this awful season.”

By Liz Brasher

Everyone is in this, all together. 

Death makes no distinction between rich or poor, white or black, male or female, which should serve as a reminder that we are always equals.

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