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SNAPSHOT: A Photo Journal of Life During the Pandemic

Woman wearing a mask with a camera taking a pictureThe COVID-19 pandemic has swept us all unwittingly into an historical time; a time filled with insecurity, frustration, and anxiety, but also a time filled with introspection, compassion, and hope. Historically, how are you going to look back on this time? How will you remember it?
To answer these questions San Diego Public Library’s Special Collections wants your help. We are asking the public to please join us in a project titled SNAPSHOT: A Photo Journal of Life During the Pandemic. Help us create an historical record for our archives; a record that provides us and future generations with images of our lives during this pandemic. In order to help, please simply gather together and submit photographs taken over the past six months or the next six months; images that capture and reflect just a moment of time, or images that express or summarize the entire experience.
As you make decisions on which photographs to choose for submission, think about how they tell the story of COVID-19 and its impact on different facets of your life. Whether your photographs capture the practical side of life: social distancing, telecommuting, or transitioning your home into a classroom or workspace; or changes in daily routines, family dynamics, and interactions with others, we want you to submit those photos!
Or you might choose a more abstract or philosophical approach: find images that capture strength, humor, or hope.

Online Submission Form


  • Limit your submissions: 1 to 10 images per individual.
  • Put your submissions into context; provide a caption of up to 200 words per image.
  • Complete the online entry form for each image.
  • For questions contact us at: speccoll@sandiego.gov 
Photo of empty shelves at a grocery store

Frequently Asked Questions

What is project SNAPSHOT: A Photo Journal of Life During the Pandemic?

SNAPSHOT: A Photo Journal of Life During the Pandemic is a project of the SDPL’s Special Collections Department to collect, archive, and share the photographs taken by the public of images that capture their experience during the pandemic.

What is the goal of the pilot project?

The goal of the pilot project is to document this historic moment so that we can provide future generations with a visual record and visual interpretation of our experience.

What photographic images will be collected for the project and how?

Individuals may enter up to 10 images they feel best represent their experiences during the pandemic. Images and captions may be submitted via the application form or as an attachment to an email (speccoll@sandiego.gov). Images can even be submitted as a hardcopy to Special Collections.

How will my photos be used?

All photographs submitted to the SNAPSHOT: A Photo Journal of Life During the Pandemic project will be curated, which may include editing of the image or other manipulation, and made available to the San Diego Public Library’s Special Collections Department’s Photograph Collection and the Digital Archive Collections. By submitting a photograph participants are permitting the library to use the photographs in any way related to the project, and must sign the release form included. Photographs may be spotlighted on the library website, used for public programs, or made available to qualified researchers. Participants will not be compensated for any submission.

Can I submit a hard copy of my photograph?

Yes, photos can even be submitted as a hardcopy, but you must still fill out the on-line submission form.
Mail hardcopies to:
SDPL Special Collections
330 Park Blvd.
San Diego CA, 92101

Can I submit photographs I’ve been taking since the pandemic began?

Yes, we will accept images that were created starting in March of 2020.

What is the deadline to enter?

The deadline to enter is June 30, 2021.