Porch family photos may become some of the most coveted pictures that symbolize the strange time we have all been living during COVID-19.
They are as simple as they sound.
Families stand outside their homes, just as they are, enduring the pandemic together.
Around North America, porch photos have become a popular way for families to document the togetherness — for better or worse — of the current situation while at the same time raising money for cash-strapped local charities.
In Squamish, Rachel Krumme, a member of the board with the Squamish Food Bank, posted a plea on social media in mid-May asking for local photographers willing to donate their time and talent to take front porch family photos to fundraise for the food bank.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the local food bank has seen the need in the community increase exponentially, Krumme told The Chief.
The food bank is currently going through about $2,000 a week keeping up with the need in town, she said.
"They have gone from having two food bank/hamper deliveries a month to providing food weekly to roughly four to five times their usual amount of people they typically serve."
In stepped three local female photographers — Angela Bliss of Angela Bliss Photography, Paula Munro Owen of Paula Owen Photography and Vairdy Frail of Vairdy Photography — who volunteered their time and talents to snap the porch sittings.
More than 60 families in town have been in the freeze frames so far, raising roughly $6,000 for the food bank.
Photo sessions were $75 each, for two photos, but some people have given more, Krumme said.
Bliss was the first Squamish photog to step forward.
She had seen porch photo sessions happening in other communities, she said.
Back in early April, the Professional Photographers of Canada advised members to suspend porch photos during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a bit of controversy among photographers, but Krumme and Bliss said that Squamish photographers worked within town and kept a safe distance from families.
Bliss said she too was concerned about the process when she first heard of it.
As she was doing her daily walks around her neighbourhood with her kids very early in the pandemic, a neighbour approached her to do a porch sitting, but she wasn't ready yet.
When the restrictions started to lift she offered the service within her own neighbourhood, and when she saw Krumme's post, she jumped at the chance to be involved.
The process of taking the pictures is different than most family portraits pre-pandemic, say for Christmas cards, she said.
"As a photographer, I am used to a lot of interaction with families, posing and touching and directing, especially with young kids, is a huge part of the job," she said.
"So taking a step back and not being physically involved with families is hard, but it was nice to step back and watch families interact with each other organically without having to manipulate the way that they were behaving."
Photo sessions with each family take 10 minutes or less. Her favourites were the ones when families were silly with each other.
"The important thing for me to capture is authenticity. It is not dressing up, it is not presenting yourself for the formal portrait," she said.
Krumme said she and the food bank are very grateful to the photographers for their time and talent and to the families who purchased photos.
She hopes to attract a set of new photographers who might be interested in continuing the trend.
"If there are other photographers interested in helping, the food bank is still obviously having to operate at a crazy time and it hasn't slowed down," she said, adding the ideal commitment would be for photographers to take on capturing porch shots of 30 local families.
"That would be amazing," she said.
Photographers who want to get involved can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update: here is how to sign up for the next set.