At the beginning of 2020, the world stopped. The streets emptied of people, filled with silence and then gave way to applause and conversations between windows and through screens. Hugs and kisses were forgotten. Social relationships became virtual. From that day on (if not before), COVID-19 made all the headlines, all the news and the conversations between neighbors, friends and relatives.

There has been much said about how the global pandemic has given way to what is known as the ‘new normal‘. Also about how it has changed us and we have given more importance to moments we did not value before. About how we should face the future in society and, above all, what lessons we should learn from what has happened.

COVID Archive’: the largest visual archive of a pandemic

‘COVID Archive’, a Spanish initiative that aims to create a collective and photographic memory of the pandemic in that country, but which reflects a reality that is easily recognizable throughout the world.

This collection of images, promoted by the Spanish photojournalist Santi Palacios, collects, for the moment, a total of 8,533 photographs by 385 authors. A time capsule to make a retrospective to the hardest moments lived in times of pandemic.

A screenshot of the COVID Archive
Screenshot of the COVID Archive

For the first time in a long time, the vast majority of photojournalism, photography and documentary video professionals have been working on the same subject: COVID-19 and its consequences. The main raison d’être of ‘COVID Archive’ is to contribute to the right to information so that it is profound, diverse, respectful and faithful to the difficult realities experienced in Spain during this global pandemic.

“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it”

This quote from a Spanish philosopher is undoubtedly one of the main premises of this ‘COVID Archive’: to prevent the audiovisual material on the pandemic from falling into oblivion. Only a tiny part of the work of these professionals has seen the light of day, so ‘COVID Archive’ is more than a mere container of images, it is a staunch defense of the work of photojournalists.

It is a unique photographic story, which serves as a witness to remember a historic moment that we must not forget, as it makes tangible, visually speaking, the crisis and the consequences of the pandemic in a country. It is a tool for users to find a complete photographic inventory sorted by subject, author, location or specific date.

In this sense, ‘COVID Archive’ makes available to the public a collective work, which has also been conceived as a legacy for future generations.

COVID Archive: a picture is worth a thousand words

The photojournalist Álvaro Laforet, in statements to other media, has stated that “the narrative is what makes a photograph unforgettable in time, freezing the story. In photojournalism, technique is important and it is assumed that the photographer has it but it takes more value what you want to tell, how you see it and how you express it through the lens”.

And in ‘Archivo COVID’ you find just that: lives, people with names and surnames, real stories that convey feelings, fears, that tell, almost shouting, a shared tragedy, that move. In short, necessary stories that, as Laforet says, “now more than ever, the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words makes more sense”.

We invite you to browse ‘COVID Archive’ to experience it in first person.