Photographer Ethan Taylor has been making the most of being home from college due to COVID-19. Along with his girlfriend, Carly Hellerstedt, Ethan has been photographing various events from afar while social distancing. Recently, Ethan and Carly's alma mater — Fannin County High School in Georgia — tapped the pair to photograph its high school graduation ceremony, and the resulting images are incredibly powerful.
"The school hosted a group ceremony so that the students had a secondary, more traditional celebration," Ethan told POPSUGAR. "It was very emotional and surreal to be a part of. It felt like we were making history, Carly and I even took photos of ourselves with our cameras and in masks to remember it by. It wasn't sad, but it was definitely intense and emotional to be down there."
"It was very emotional and surreal to be a part of. It felt like we were making history."
As you can imagine, the ceremony looked a heck of a lot different than when Ethan got his diploma in 2017. To make things even more profound, Ethan and Carly knew many of the graduates personally.
"Of course, it was very emotional for both of us," he explained. "Especially as someone close to graduating college. I could put myself in their shoes very easily. I really feel for them, it's a great school and a great place to grow up. I grew up with their siblings and I took a lot of their senior pictures. We know them so we were that much more invested. It was raw and emotional but the whole time . . . I was shooting thinking maybe this might end up in a history book one day. And that [was enough to make me] emotional."
As you can see from the photos above and below, the night sky added a somewhat eerie element to images once the students had officially graduated. "The weather, the sunset, and everyone in masks made it feel so bizarre but also very important," he shared. "I'm proud of the community and the school system for working so hard to put it on. Most students and their families were very grateful also. I received a lot of love and kindness."
Overall, Ethan said that the graduates enjoyed celebrating their big milestone, going as far to caption one of his Facebook posts, "You can still see the smiles, even with the masks on." Scroll ahead to get a look at these incredible photos that students will remember for a lifetime.