Amidst the coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions, photographers are finding alternative ways for taking photos. One of them includes taking family photos on their front porches while maintain a necessary distance. However, Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) urges people to stop doing it, noting that the virus can only move if they move.
In this time of crisis, our collective spirits are down. Like many other people, photographers are doing their part to help others, as well as themselves, to cheer up. These “porch sessions” are a part of these efforts, and more often than not, they’re also done for charity. Toronto-based photographer Jonny Micay told The Star that he’s taken “porchtraits” of about 45 families. These helped him to raise $4,000 for charitable organizations such as food banks and hospitals.
Despite good intentions, PPOC urges photographers to stay at home instead of visiting families to take their photos in front of their homes. People are allowed to go out only for essential services or business, and PPOC notes that “photography is not an essential service or business.”
“We cannot be too careful! This virus is extremely contagious, and is killing people all over the world. Sadly, we are seeing the death count rise daily in our country. This virus can only move, if YOU move.”
Louise Vessey MPA SPA, Chair of the PPOC said that there’s still room for costly mistakes, despite the very best intentions of this type of photography. “Some photographers may knock on the door or ring the doorbell, pass someone in the street, a child could run over to hug them, or their built in photographer instinct to go over and fix hair, pose the client and assist could easily kick in. These potential actions risk passing on, or catching COVID-19,” she notes in the press release.
“Of course I too have the ‘itch’ and would love to go out and have fun photographing porch sessions for charity, get some needed media exposure, bring a little light and fun into people’s days and tell their stories. I get the ‘feel good’ aspect of this type of session. But now is not the time. These stories will still be there once the dust settles and we are on the other side of this Pandemic crisis. We can photograph and tell their stories when the time is right. This is serious! Any risk is not a risk worth taking no matter how small you believe it is.”
Micay told The Star that he believes going to the grocery store is far riskier than taking “porchraits.” Some fellow photographers share his opinion, while the others stand with PPOC. My thoughts are pretty complex on this matter, but I’ll try to break them down.
I agree that shopping baskets and carts in grocery stores are pretty disgusting, with germs all over them. However, going to a grocery store is an essential activity that we can’t avoid. On the other hand, we can avoid seeing people and taking portraits, both from the distance and from up close.
On the other hand, we do need photography (and art in general) to keep us sane and cheer us up. After months in isolation, we crave human contact, even if it’s at 6ft or larger distance. Mental health is something that we shouldn’t take for granted, and it’s starting to deteriorate in many people amidst the current situation.
I think that we shouldn’t choose between physical and mental health, but always take care of both. In the current situation though, I believe that we should prioritize physical health in a way. But let me try and explain what I mean by that.
We should be responsible to ourselves and others in terms of preventing the virus from spreading. And whatever we do right now, we should take precaution measures into consideration. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do anything to cheer ourselves and others up, or to raise money for charity. I just think that we should find ways to do it that will be perfectly safe for everyone. We can take photos via video chat or with a drone if we want to have others involved. Or we can photograph toys to stay creative and lift other people’s spirits. This Lego wedding, for example, really cheered me up. And of course, if we feel bad, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help.
So, even though photography is important, I agree with PPOC that it’s not an essential business that should take us outside and have us meet with other people. But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t find creative ways to help others and ourselves. What do you think about this situation? Are “porchtraits” perfectly safe, or you’d rather stay at home and find alternatives?