Memories Of Quarantine

Dr. Clyde Huston family on front porch of their home 1907

Scott Bourne encourages budding photographers to consider themselves “High Priests and Priestesses of Memory“. While one could argue this framing applies to every photography discipline, it is particularly valuable for those who work in these fields:

  • Family portraiture, including newborns & pets,
  • Wedding photography & videography,
  • School/yearbook photography,
  • Journalism of every stripe.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantines have dramatically impacted business all across the nation. Photographers and videographers are no different and, in some ways, they are hit harder.

Right at this moment, none of us are particularly interested in remembering these difficult times. However, it is precisely because of the challenges we are all facing that we should make an effort to capture some memories of this time.

This too shall pass.

When it does, we will want to remember the moments that brought us closer together, as individuals, as families and as communities: local, national and global.

Scott is also fond of saying that, in difficult times, the most valuable thing creators can do is to create. It is a salve to their souls and to the souls of those who appreciate their creations.

What About “Porch Portraits”?

Not familiar with the emerging porch portrait trend? Watch the video below for an example. Photographers around the nation are making porch portraits both as service projects and side hustles.

On the surface, porch portraits look like a creative solution for capturing memories during this pervasive pandemic. However, like my friend Bryan Esler over at Photofocus, I have my reservations:

  • First, as much as the creation and consumption of art feeds the soul, it is a non-essential service.
  • Being out in the community places you, your family and your subjects at great risk of COVID-19 transmission. Scheduling such a session may encourage families to come together for the session, which may further increase their risk of transmission.
  • Being out in the community increases the risk of vehicular accidents which may require intervention by first responders, trips to the ER and hospitalizations. All of which dramatically increase risk of transmission for everyone involved.
  • Taking photos in the community contributes to narratives, and conspiracy theories, which view the risk from COVID-19 as minimal which, in turn, reduces our ability to flatten the curve while increasing the probability of a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths.
  • Finally, there are better alternatives, which can serve the same need.

If Not Porch Portraits, What Are My Options?

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

For Your Family

  • Screencap the “Brady Bunch” view of a your Zoom calls. Personal, professional, school, virtual happy hours? They all count.
  • Capture the little moments at home. Kids behind the laptop working on homework. Making meals as a family. Gathered at the dinner table or in front of the TV watching movies.
  • Visits with family, friends and neighbors while social distancing. 6-10′ apart. Masks on. Talking through car windows. But, don’t make special trips for these visits. Combine them with necessary supply runs. Keep them brief and maintain social distancing. Make sure you only do this with family and friends you trust to respect social distancing as much as you do.
  • Take your own porch portraits!

For Your Community

  • Start a Facebook group or three: Add your families, friends and neighbors, other parents from your school, and other communities.
  • Share your own porch portraits.
  • Then, teach, assuming everyone is using their smartphone:
    • Explain why it is important to capture memories, even in difficult times … especially now.
    • How you conceived the shot(s) and set them up (e.g. composition, framing & lighting)
    • How you made the shot (e.g. smartphone, app, lenses, filters & settings)
    • How you edited the shot (e.g. apps, workflows & filters).
  • Offer to help: many folks will be able to get a decent shot, but may not be able to edit well. Offer to edit their photos for them.

    You can do this as a community service or you can offer to do it for a fee. Either way, you are building your brand as a content creator while keeping your family, friends and neighbors safe. When this difficult moment has passed many, if not all, will remember the service you provided and call on you for professional services down the road.

Have ideas of your own? Share them in the comments below.

Stay safe. Be well.

Image Credits: Frank R. Snyder.

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Doug Daulton

Doug’s career has been invested in leveraging emerging technology to tell stories that interest him and helping others do the same. His work includes ground-breaking, high-profile live streams and independent feature films.

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