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SUMMER RULES is a series where we ask people to share with us how they’re staying safe and sane during this very different summer season; from mask suggestions to soundtrack selections, we’ll take a peek into how others are making these challenging times work.

Today we’ve got some input from Maryland-born, DC-based photographer Shaughn Cooper, who’s been keeping his cool this summer by hiking, reading comics and more:

How do you usually feel about summer, as a season overall, and how do you feel about THIS summer, by comparison?

Usually I feel excited about Summer! Amidst everything going on, I still feel excited– I was down for a bit, but I’ve learned over the years to adjust to circumstances to make sure I’m happy no matter what

What is your summer shaping up to look like?

My summer is shaping up to look pretty busy ….. I’ve taken on four new mentees since May, I’m working on a mentoring group through my collective Community of Creatives, I’ve taken on my first director position on a series showcasing Black Owned Businesses, and I picked up boxing again to stay in shape lol– I try to keep myself occupied 

Is there anything in particular you’re actually looking forward to this summer?

I’m looking forward to starting my own photographer mentorship program this summer the most …… I’ve been trying to make this happen for years now and I finally feel like I have the support to make it happen.

What are some of your tips for staying safe and sane right now? 

1) Always wear a mask in public

2) If you travel out of state, quarantine yourself from the public for 2 weeks.

3) Stay up to date on CDC guidelines

4) Limit social media and new consumption to stay sane.

5) Work on a passion project or read a book (anything recreational tbh) to escape for a second– whether that be 5 min to 5 hours; however long you need, don’t forget to give yourself a break.

Go-to summer wellness practice advice? Any spots in particular that have been helping you on that front?

Hiking! I’ve been hiking a lot recently. I use the app AllTrails to find hiking trails near me to get away for a bit at least once a week.

Where did you get your mask from? And what, aside from that, has been your more or less go-to summer uniform?

I got my surgical mask from my godmother. She bought 50 surgical masks at the beginning of the pandemic for my godbrother and I so we could be stocked up for a while. Once they run out, I have a washable fabric mask that I got from a friend that I’ll be able to use.

What (if anything) are you reading right now, and why do you recommend it? (Alternatively, just share a favorite book.)

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of comics. The one I’m most fascinated by is a Green Lantern comic called Far Sector where the Green Lantern is a Black Woman who has been sent to another planet to help solve a crime. 

Do you have a go-to summer hang-out recipe that still works for a socially distanced gathering? And/or just a favorite general summer recipe that’s still a go-to, even now?

Vegan Raw Kale Salad with mixed vegetables!

What’s on your summer playlist this year, or are there three songs that are permanent summer favorites for you?

I’ve been listening to “Alfredo” by Freddie Gibbs and Madlib lately– they’re a dynamic duo.

Where do you wish you COULD GO this summer, if there were no restrictions or safety risks?

I wish I could go to Japan, I was scheduled to go in March for work, but corona cancelled it 🙁

And is there anywhere you’ve been safely going that you could recommend for people who live nearby? Any day trips or local spots worth mentioning, for example?

The Appalachian Trail via Annapolis Rock! It’s a pretty lengthy and rigorous uphill hike (well for me at least lol), but it has an amazing view!

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Featured image by Abu Elsedag

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