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Sonnie & Sarah: The social distancing life for two teenage sisters
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Sonnie & Sarah: The social distancing life for two teenage sisters

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It was March 17 when she felt compelled to get her camera out.

Brandi Simons was home in Owasso with her two teenage daughters, 17-year-old Sonnie and 14-year-old Sarah, when she thought she needed to document what life had turned into because of the coronavirus.

“It felt big to me early on,” she said. “The big part of our little story was that life as they knew it was canceled.”

She also had her students in mind a little bit, too.

“I tell my students that a camera gives you purpose,” said Simons, a former Tulsa World staff photographer who is now a photography teacher at Tulsa Tech. “It gives us meaning.”

Simons first put the photos on her personal Facebook page. The Tulsa World posted the series online at tulsaworld.com shortly after.

Simons updated the series daily for 41 days. It has received national attention from the National Press Photographers Association and the Poynter Institute, which recognizes outstanding journalism across the country.

PEN America, a national organization dedicated to defending the First Amendment rights of creators, recently recognized Simons and her husband, Mike Simons, a Tulsa World staff photographer, as Local Journalist Heroes in its ongoing spotlight on journalists across the country covering the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mike Simons contributed to a Tulsa World photo series called How coronavirus has affected life around Tulsa” that offered Tulsans at home a look at what was happening around the city. 

Here are the photos taken during the 41 days of the series. 

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