Graduating Drexel student photographs ‘generation pandemic’ for Time cover

Hannah Beier
Photo credit Courtesy of Hannah Beier
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Hannah Beier spent her senior year at Drexel University documenting significant relationships in her life for a project she named “Time Apart.”

But when the coronavirus crisis hit and almost all in-person gatherings — including classes — were canceled, the photography student had to figure out a way to continue her project without being physically present.

To maintain social distancing protocols, she directed her shots by FaceTiming her subjects and explaining how to set up the camera.  

“A lot of them had no idea how to set up a camera, so we spend probably the first 30, 40 minutes just working on actually setting up a camera,” she said. “It was really fun, too. I'm a (teaching assistant) for Drexel and I really love to teach.”

Meanwhile, Time magazine wanted to showcase “generation pandemic,” so it put out a call for student photographers across the country to submit a COVID-19-related series for the June issue.

One of Beier's photography professors submitted her work. 

Her photos were chosen, and one even made the cover, illustrating her friend and former roommate, Melissa Nesta, on her couch, quarantining with her boyfriend, Dan Mosley, in their University City apartment. Gold foil “2020” balloons hang above their tiny couch.

“She had a New Year's party and had those 2020 balloons on her wall and just left them up to see how long they would last, and we decided that would be the perfect place to make this picture,” said Beier.

TIME's new cover: How COVID-19 will shape the Class of 2020 for the rest of their lives

— TIME (@TIME) May 21, 2020

“There were so many times that I just wanted to dive headfirst into the computer screen and be there with them because I would envision exactly how to take the photograph, but even if it took a few minutes or a few hours, we would eventually get there,” she said.

Beier captured more milestone moments through a quarantined lens.

The cover image — Mosley working on his laptop, Nesta offering a disappointing glance — captures the mood of this moment in time, Beier said.

“We were all looking forward to being together and celebrating all the hard work that we've done, and there have been plenty of days where I've sat around also feeling sad and hopeless,” she admitted.

Of course, making the cover of Time as a student was certainly a bright moment.

“It was so unbelievable,” she enthused. “Time magazine is my first-ever publication.”