PHEW! What a *weird* week (two weeks?) it's been!
There has been so much bad news lately, but I'm trying to watch for all the good in the world too (trust me, it's there)! I love the idea of small businesses trying to find ways to give back. Maybe you've heard of Front Porch Sessions (FPS); they have been sweeping social media, and even some news stations by storm. Some photographers are doing it for profit, some for personal creative projects and some for donations.
I love that people are trying to find ways to give back and this post is not made with the intention of shaming anyone who is trying do what they can to help others, even if at one point that involved taking front porch sessions. I have been brainstorming ways I can serve my clients and help others during the COVID-19 pandemic. But let me tell you why I'm not offering them.
What are Front Porch Sessions?
First of all, what even is a Front Porch Session? FPS (or front stoop, or side porch, or front door, etc.) sessions involve a photographer coming over to your house, staying at least 6 feet away, and taking photos of you and your family on your porch.
Why are Front Porch Sessions So Controversial?
Making money while putting my clients and the greater community at risk is, well, risky. And if I did it for free? That carries its own controversy in the photography community for devaluing an already undervalued industry. If I photographed front porch sessions for donations or just for my own personal creative project, the guidelines for social distancing and what is essential are still being blurred. I'm not convinced that photographing families is, without a doubt, essential business.
Is it worth the risk? I don't think so.
I am not convinced that shooting sessions during a mandatory closure of non-essential workplaces (whether or not we maintain social distancing) - for donations or for free - is legal. Unfortunately there is a lot of conflicting information out there and because this is pretty much an unprecedented scenario, and our governing bodies have more important things to do than let their local photographers know if they can shoot front porch sessions.
I'm going to say it's not worth the risk.
I don't want to find out in a couple weeks that what I've been doing is illegal and I literally have photo documentation that I was breaking the law *insert laughing crying emoji* Individuals can be fined for not complying with EMCPA (Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act) and corporations can be fined up to $500, 000.
I am not convinced that shooting front porch sessions - whether or not you maintain social distancing - is risk free. If you cannot be sure that you are not a carrier of the virus, you cannot be sure there is no risk. If you cannot be sure that the gas station, coffee shop, etc., that you stopped at on the way to the session has not been exposed to the virus, you cannot be sure there is no risk. If you cannot be sure that the family you are about to photograph didn't pop over to their friend's to get their hair done, or invite grandma and grandpa over to get in for a quick photo, you cannot be sure there is no risk. Our federal, provincial and municipal governments are asking us to stay home. Our public health authorities are asking us to stay home. Our health care providers (who have no other choice but to go to work) are asking us to stay home for anything that is not necessary. Even with as much as I value photography, it is just not worth the increased risk to me.
My business insurance probably doesn't cover me shooting sessions during a provincially mandated closure of non-essential workplaces. The verdict is still out on this one (I'm awaiting a reply from my insurance company), but with insurance companies being notorious for finding reasons to not approve insurance claims, I'm not prepared to risk it. If my equipment is damaged or my clients are injured during a shoot, I don't want to be S.O.L., if you know what I mean.
And finally, outside of my photography business I work in an essential field of work. I am not willing to increase my chances of getting the virus. The people I support depend on their support people to show up for them every day. Many of the people I support are at increased risk of developing severe complications if they catch COVID-19. The people I support, my coworkers and their families are just not worth the risk.
How I'm adapting and giving back
When I see other photographers using their creativity to cope through this crisis or to bring a smile to someone's face, I know that's where I want to fit in, too. After asking myself, "How can I adjust my business to give back and serve my clients through this crisis?", this is what I've come up with:
Giveaway for a full session
Contest closes at noon April 30th, 2020. Sessions to be booked once the mandatory closures and gathering ban is lifted, duh. Must be a resident of Ontario, or willing to travel to within an hour of Guelph, Ontario for your session. How to enter: provide me proof of minimum $25 donation to one of the charities supporting Canada's COVID-19 Pandemic Response.
I will donate 10% from gift certificates purchased from now until the end of April to one of the charities supporting Canada's COVID-19 Pandemic Response (sessions to be booked when mandatory closures are lifted)
I will donate $1 from each item sold from the print shop from now until the end of April, to one of the charities supporting Canada's COVID-19 Pandemic Response.
If you're interested in entering the giveaway, purchasing a gift certificate, or ordering prints, please get in touch! I welcome your thoughts and feelings in the comments. Wishing you all health, happiness and chill feels in this stressful time <3