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Amid the anxiety, a Globe photographer finds scenes of kindness, patience, hope

What a mask-wearing, fast-shooting photojournalist saw this fall

A group of turkeys walked through a cemetery in Quincy.
A group of turkeys walked through a cemetery in Quincy.Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff

Thanksgiving can come with challenges, but this year it looks to be especially difficult. Any turkey knows that. Recently, a half dozen of them were hiding behind tombstones in a place where people don’t want to end up anytime soon: the local cemetery.

Everybody is having a tough time as we enter Round Two of the pandemic. Photojournalists, too. At least one Globe photographer had to quarantine three times due to unexpected exposure to COVID-positive people.

Photojournalists walk a tight rope between not getting too close to subjects while still trying to doing their jobs.

My philosophy, learned in dangerous situations, is to shoot and scoot. But things are more complicated now. We wear masks, which is not conducive to making great pictures. The simple act of breathing fogs the viewfinder after the first shot. After that, everything is cloudy.

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In some ways it harkens back to the mid 20th century. News photographers would use their large format 4 x 5 Speed Graphic cameras to make just a single image before having to flip the film holder to make another frame. Today, in this spoiled, 16 frames per second, motor-driven digital age, the pandemic is requiring photographers to have more discipline.

We’re all in uncharted waters this year. The presidential race brought immeasurable anxiety to many folks.

Early voting at City Hall Plaza in the snow. Some people did not want to be photographed because they were supposed to be working.
Early voting at City Hall Plaza in the snow. Some people did not want to be photographed because they were supposed to be working. Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff

At Boston City Hall for early voting during a snowstorm, no one was complaining about long lines. But several people asked not to be photographed; they were supposed to be at work.

Understandable.

Not so understandable are the few others who have become openly hostile to the news media. They cite “fake news” propaganda to berate news photographers. It’s a pathetic shoot-the-messenger attitude.

But overall the Hub has risen to the challenges.

A homeless man pushes his belongings in a wheelchair as a woman helps him put on a plastic poncho.
A homeless man pushes his belongings in a wheelchair as a woman helps him put on a plastic poncho. Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff

There are numerous acts of kindness. During a late October rainstorm, a woman helped a man, who was lugging his belongings in a wheelchair, put on his plastic poncho. On Newbury Street after a post-election rally, Julia Koehler, a Boston woman holding a “Count Every Vote” sign, rushed to lift a homeless man who had fallen.

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Julia Koehler of Boston on her way back from a Count Every Vote rally helps a homeless man who fell on Newbury St.
Julia Koehler of Boston on her way back from a Count Every Vote rally helps a homeless man who fell on Newbury St. Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff
A refrigerator on Centre St. powered by D'Friends Barbershop and stocked by many helps feed those in need.
A refrigerator on Centre St. powered by D'Friends Barbershop and stocked by many helps feed those in need.Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff

In Jamaica Plain, a free food refrigerator on Centre St. powered by D’Friends Barbershop and stocked by many, is totally full, for those in need. A woman peering inside politely asks not to be photographed.

“I’m trying to keep my dignity and not ask my friends for help,” she says.

An elderly woman in a West Roxbury retirement home wishes she could have Thanksgiving with her family.
An elderly woman in a West Roxbury retirement home wishes she could have Thanksgiving with her family. Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff

Nearby, at a West Roxbury retirement home, a senior citizen, prays that all her family can someday gather safely together again for Thanksgiving.

In Quincy, a lonely girl stuck at home on remote learning receives a pandemic puppy for a 14th birthday present.

An eight-week-old puppy in Quincy licks her lips after playing in the powdery snow.
An eight-week-old puppy in Quincy licks her lips after playing in the powdery snow. Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff

The pup gets to romp with her new pal in her first snow, jumping up and then burrowing her face in the powdery flakes. When she emerges, she licks her lips and leaps into the girl’s arms for hugs. It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship.



Stan Grossfeld can be reached at stanley.grossfeld@globe.com.