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Photographer captures heartbreak and hope of Class of 2020 with unique portraits

The documentary photo essay hopes to capture "what could have been, what should have been, what might have been."
/ Source: TODAY

While the national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic has been demoralizing for many, one population who has especially been affected by the shutdown is high school seniors.

Many of the momentous milestones these teenagers have looked forward to are now canceled, cutting short those formative experiences and traditions that many hold dear.

One photographer is looking to change that, by creating a new memory for students by capturing their portraits during an unprecedented time. These photos represent what was lost but also honor what they've achieved throughout the years.

Matt Mendelsohn plans to photograph the entire senior class at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia this year in a photo series project called "Not Forgotten: The Yorktown Seniors of 2020."

While adhering to social distancing guidelines, Mendelsohn visits the high schoolers at their homes, capturing in dramatic black-and-white photographs, the important moments they are missing out on due to the coronavirus.

From golf championships to band performances, the documentary photo essay hopes to capture "what could have been, what should have been, what might have been."

Matt Mendelsohn

"To see that all gone is something that is devastating to us," one senior told TODAY.

Another added, "There was no real sense of recognition for us. We were just thrown away in that sense and that was pretty much it."

But while the photo series captures the heartbreak these teens are feeling, it also portrays a story of hope and resilience.

Matt Mendelsohn

"It's almost sort of a sense of grit," one senior explained. "I feel like where, OK, we can do this ... we're gonna get through this."

Matt Mendelsohn

On what he hopes this accomplishes, Mendelsohn said, "The goal is to not forget them and remembering that you should have been doing great things this month."