Lockdown has impacted my business hugely. As a photographer, the restrictions were quite clear and all weddings have ceased at the time of writing this article. Corporate clients are working from home where possible and family photoshoots were off the cards. Then, in the States, the concept of “doorstep” photography was born. Like so many things, the Americans have an idea and then it ripples across the Atlantic and lands on our shores.
So what is doorstep photography? The concept is that a photographer, working under the restrictions currently in place during lockdown or “seek shelter” rulings, could work locally, walking to different locations, and to photograph families on their own doorstep, keeping social distancing in place. The concept grew and grew, there was much heated debate on various photography groups as to whether this should be allowed, could the virus spread if the photographer was downwind of the couple, was it morally right to be working? And then the charitable donation side of the sessions began to emerge, almost to make it OK to go out for “unnecessary” travel. Are photoshoots necessary? Should the photographer be travelling? Why should they make a profit whilst working? And so many more questions.
I have been extremely resistant to offering doorstep sessions. For one, to me it came under the heading of “not making unnecessary journeys” even though I can’t work from home. And under those restrictions, if you can’t work from home, then you can go to work. But doorstep photography has never been under my remit of work; I am a wedding and corporate photographer, not a doorstep photographer. And then the restrictions began to be lifted, in particular that we can now make journeys and travel further afield. And it doesn’t have to be “necessary”. But then the UK government has stipulated that you are not allowed to make arrangements to meet groups of people or, indeed, to go into their homes. But the doorstep photography continued.
I was making a live Facebook video (which still fills me with some amount of fear) and during the video, one of my lovely brides asked me to do a doorstep session for her. I explained my feelings about it, but she asked … and so I did. She kindly offered to post it on a local Facebook group with details of my small charge which would go to charity. And then the comments started: “there’s another photographer offering sessions for less locally and donating more to the NHS”. My chosen charity wouldn’t be the NHS, it would be 21 Together who work tirelessly with the local Down’s Syndrome community and with whom I have worked in in the past. And as a result of these hugely negative comments, I asked my bride to delete the post that she had so very kindly made on Facebook.
But I decided to do her session for free because I wanted to. And it was fun. So much fun. To be behind the camera again, photographing a lovely family and making a special memory for them during these challenging times. After all, when you think about it, war photographers captured incredible moments during the hardest times imaginable. And without those, would we have really been able to visualise what was happening in our community and throughout the world?
And so back to doorstep photography, is that not, in itself, another record of history in the making. I mean, I couldn’t imagine that anyone would want to experience another worldwide pandemic in their lifetime. So here is my only doorstep session …
I adore this family. We have been part of each others lives since Hayley and Dom were married and have documented their growing family. This means more to me than I can possibly put into words. Hayley actually paid me for the session which I had not expected at all and so I will be making a donation to my chosen charity.