From Portraits To Doortraits
My 2 Meter Project for Tilehouse
It was so easy to go into panic mode as soon as the lock-down was enforced by the government and many businesses like mine really suffered as the feeling of uncertainty grew in the UK. Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and public gatherings were cancelled or postponed, many of which are still to be rescheduled. Jobs were furloughed and many were made redundant. I didn’t pick up my camera for several weeks and spent most of my working days home-schooling my children.
But while I cherished the time with them, I didn’t feel like me. I had no creative output and I wanted to help those who were suffering the most. After about 6 weeks, I decided that as I had no idea what was ahead of me I would try and be as proactive as possible. My mum has an amazing mantra, which my sister and I have drilled into our children – ‘I can, I shall, I will’. It was the only thing going through my head to get a perspective on the situation.
By mid-May the government thankfully eased the restrictions and we could once again go out in the car for non-essential journeys. Oh, how my life was suddenly so different! I would be able to give something back to the community and do something to help, in the only way I knew how.
The Answer To The Issue
During a zoom networking meeting with the lovely ladies at Hitchin WIBN; I was approached by Sarah Free who volunteers for Tilehouse Counsilling in Hitchin. She was looking for a photographer to help with Doorstep Portraits or ‘Doortraits’. These were family portraits to illustrate life during lock down with donations to benefit those suffering with their mental health. As someone who has suffered with depression in the past, I jumped at the chance knowing how important their services are. After much discussion of how they would be conducted, Sarah and I started to promote these sessions on Facebook and Instagram. We had such a wonderful response that I needed to make several spreadsheets and action plans to fit as many families in as possible. We set dates for two weekends of sessions and I made a map of Hitchin with all my stops routed out. My local Shenley families would be at the beginning and end of my day so that I would be close to home.
Every family I met were so happy to see me and so grateful to capture this strange time with their loved ones. One family was moving to a new house so they wanted photos on their doorstep to remember in years to come. One couple should have been getting married that day but had to postpone. Another was awaiting their second child and hadn’t managed to get any nice pregnancy images of all three of them. Where one family had just welcomed their ‘surprise’ third baby and wanted some family photos of themselves as a fivesome. One was celebrating their daughter’s 18th birthday and another wanted to capture themselves with their dog who was not long for the world and has sadly passed away since.
Each family was completely unique and each wanted something different from their session. Although I didn’t spend long with them, I did try to bring out their personalities and give them an experience to remember for the rest of their lives. It was really important to me that the sessions felt as normal as possible as well as lots of fun. We all recognised the significance of the portraits and I was so happy to know that all my hard work would be benefiting these families and the clients of Tilehouse. I didn’t charge a fee for the sessions, knowing how financially stretched many of us were at the time. Instead I asked for a donation to my Just Giving page, which would directly go to the charity and I was truly blown away by how generous everyone was. We raised £680!
Thank you to each and every one of the people who were involved. To the Tilehouse for being so generous with their resources, to the families who made a difficult and restrictive set of shoots so much fun and thanks to you for reading my blog. If you would like to help me raise more funds for those suffering with their mental health (and there are many more than before due to this pandemic), please click on the following link - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/clairejonasphotography