Biobot Analytics for Bloomberg Businessweek

In early April, during the first few weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, I heard about a lab in the Boston area that was testing municipal waste water and sewage as a way of discovering COVID-19 infection rates in a community. After a little research, I pitched the story of Biobot Analytics to Bloomberg Businessweek, and happily, editors there were interested. A few weeks later, I was in the lab on a late Friday afternoon, photographing the lab in operation as they organized hundreds of samples, prepped water for analysis, and collated data. I also had a short portrait session with one of Biobot's founders and CEO,

As it turns out, the lab was an offshoot of the Eric Alm's lab at MIT, which also started the OpenBiome project, photographed in 2014 for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

A big thanks to editors Jane and Ryan for helping make this story end up in print!

Provincetown during the Pandemic for the New York Times

For the New York Times, I spent an evening in Provincetown photographing the city's response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, including their Town Ambassador program and an outdoor performance of the The Judy & Varla Show at the Crown & Anchor. The entire downtown area of Provincetown has been made a mandatory mask zone 24 hours a day and nightclubs, a mainstay of the city in summers, have not been allowed to open.

It was quite the sight seeing the normally-bustling streets almost empty at 11pm--the owner of a pedicab company in Provincetown told me that's right when things would really be getting going in previous summers.

Thanks to Jessie for the call!

Coronavirus Pandemic coverage for the Chronicle of Higher Education

Since the coronavirus pandemic started in March, I've photographed a handful of stories for the Chronicle of Higher Education about how faculty, students, and institutions, were affected by the global health emergency and how they've responded. From Harvard's student moveout in March to grad students unable to continue their research to professors trying to figure out how to manage teaching fully online or in person when a school forces them to do so, it's been interesting to talk with all of these people about how the academic world has been upended.

Thanks, as always, to Rose and Erica for the assignments.

Harvard moveout at the beginning of the pandemic

Graduate research stopped by pandemic quarantine orders

Boston University faculty and students protest reopening plan

Portraits of college professor teaching from home

Semper Ficus: Office plants left behind during the pandemic for the New York Times

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, I started thinking about what might be left behind in all the empty office buildings in downtown Boston and office parks in the suburbs. From an assignment years ago at a construction company's office, I knew that many office buildings hire outside companies to provide and maintain their plants. After a few google searches and phone calls, I found a handful of Boston-area companies that maintain office plants and discovered that they were indeed still working during the pandemic while offices remained empty.

I reached out to Brent at the New York Times Sunday Business section with a pitch about office plants left behind during the pandemic, and was happy to hear he liked it. After that was a lot of phone calls and emails working out the logistics and permissions with three office landscaping companies and then, at long last, a few days at the end of May hopping between office buildings following along as the horticulturalists pruned, watered, and turned plants toward light in offices all around the greater Boston metro area.

One thing I've got to confess is that prior to this story, I didn't know much about office plants. But afterward, with the patient help of all the horticulturalists I shadowed, I can pretty well identify most of the plants you'd run into in a sea of cubicle or near an elevator bank. I can spot a ZZ plant or Bird of Paradise from a distance. I can point out Dracaena 'Limelight' in a lobby full of Dracaena marginatas. I might even be able to tell you when your Fiddle Leaf Fig needs to be pruned.

Huge thanks go out to the teams at Cityscapes, Garden Streets, and Plantwerks, for all their help making this project possible.

And of course thanks to Brent and the team at the NYT for the support, for making the pictures sing on the full page I got for the story, and for coming up with the wonderful title "Semper Ficus." You can also see how the story ran on the New York Times website.

Politics and potatoes at the Iowa State Fair for Time

For Time magazine, I spent 5 days at the Iowa State Fair in August, covering the candidates at the Political Soapbox and the chaos of the fair, from champion potatoes to the accordion contest. It was an absolute dream assignment (well...except for the heat and humidity!) just wandering around finding interesting people to talk to and photograph. You can see Time's edit on the magazine's website: Potatoes and Politics: See Photos From the 2019 Iowa State Fair. This will be a vital part of my ongoing coverage of the 2020 election.

Huge thanks go to editors Paul Moakley, Katherine Pomerantz, and Kim Bubello, for the support and for the thoughtful edit.

Pete Buttigieg’s rise for New York Magazine

On assignment with New York Magazine, I spent a couple days following South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg on his first major visit to New Hampshire just as his campaign reached national prominence following a CNN Town Hall with the candidate. With no access and only two scheduled events, the work was fast-paced and unpredictable. The end result was the cover story for the April 14-28, 2019, issue of the magazine, and accompanied Olivia Nuzzi's wonderful profile of Mayor Pete.

Thanks to Marvin Orellana and Jody Quon at New York for the wonderful assignment!

More images of Pete Buttigieg are available at my online archive.

error: All images and text © M. Scott Brauer 2005-present