West University photographer sees COVID-19 through her lens

Birthday celebration
One of Perlick’s neighbors was celebrating her 16th birthday, and so friends and family celebrated with her by driving by and offering a Happy Birthday, complete with signs, hats, and confetti. (Courtesy Barbara Perlick)

One of Perlick’s neighbors was celebrating her 16th birthday, and so friends and family celebrated with her by driving by and offering a Happy Birthday, complete with signs, hats, and confetti. (Courtesy Barbara Perlick)

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Parks only just started to reopen at West University Place, and in a limited capacity. Perlick wanted to show how a neighborhood city like West U was impacted. (Courtesy Barbara Perlick)
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An attendant waits for customers in an empty airport. A sign of the times when less people are looking to travel. (Courtesy Barbara Perlick)
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The Galleria parking lot during the COVID-19 pandemic in the middle of the day. Local photographer Barbara Perlick wanted to showcase the impact the pandemic has had on daily life. (Courtesy Barbara Perlick)
Barbara Perlick’s inspiration to take photos of COVID-19’s effects began on a walk through her West University Place neighborhood a little more than two weeks ago.

“I was walking around my neighborhood and saw just how creative the children were being, writing in chalk and seeing the messages they were writing down,” Perlick said.

Perlick is a professional photographer who started her own photography business—Barbara Perlick Photography—three years ago, in order to tell stories.

She said she took that motivation and applied it to the photos she began taking of the impact of COVID-19 in not only her neighborhood in West University Place, but also the city of Houston proper, including downtown, the Galleria, University of Houston, and William P. Hobby Airport.

In West University Place, Perlick said the feelings she took away from the scenes was a mix of eeriness, sadness, interspersed with flashes of ingenuity and happiness.


“It's known as being a family place,” Perlick said. “But the baseball fields are closed, and the benches are closed off with tape.”

Photos of her neighborhood city include signs of the closures, and beyond that, in Houston, empty parking lots, people wearing masks, and more.

The variety of subjects reflects Perlick’s photography, which can cover street photography and nature to people and personal stories.

Perlick said she began taking the COVID-19 photos in the middle of the day by hopping in her car, and heading out to locations with a desire to show the emptiness of places that are normally busy.

“It gave me a feeling of overwhelming sadness, but I think people weren’t seeing the reality of the situation, because people didn’t have any reason to visit those places,” Perlick said.

One particular highlight came from an attendant from Hobby Airport sitting at a Smarte Carte luggage cart station, waiting for someone to give him something to do.
By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.