Every year, we see different photography trends arise. This year, we're seeing something new: portrait sessions of families posing in front of their homes, smiling at the safely distanced photographer. But, is this a wise move of documenting social history or a risk that is not worth taking?
We've all heard it and we all know it: we should stay inside and socially distance from others to give our countries a fighting chance to decrease the spread of the virus. And we all have been hit hard by this new reality, especially those whose businesses have plummeted, so what do we consider a safe way of working in photography with the current circumstances? Can we truly ensure we have taken every single step to avoid making matters worse for ourselves and those around us?
A new trend of "porch sessions" has sprung up during this emotionally and financially challenging time where photographers offer to photograph individuals and families in front of their homes or through their windows or glass doors. According to Photobug, this trend originated from the Front Steps Project in Massachusetts and has begun to spread all over the world. It's very likely that you know someone in your friends circle who has either pursued this or has been photographed as subjects. Although the upside is that many photographers do donate the session money towards COVID-19 relief projects and organizations and others do it for absolutely free, there is still no guarantee that the photographer and their client have taken every precaution to avoid health hazards.
Photobug tells us of an anonymous contributor who expressed their worry for this trend. Although they understand that photographers are suddenly cut off from all social contact and thus their clients, this type of photography is not a necessary interaction, nor is it an essential service. Although most do it with the best of intentions, it still leaves room open for mistakes that can cost lives. Some photographers may knock on the door or ring the doorbell, pass someone in the street, and by doing so pass, on or catch the virus.
Furthermore, in many countries all over the world, essential work is limited to key workers whose skills and jobs are required to keep the society going, whereas in this case, photography, except those working with a media pass, is certainly not an essential job. For that reason, it can be illegal to pursue it in this manner. The anonymous contributor understands that we might be tempted to find loopholes to work around the current situation, but some things are better left as they are for a reason. If we collectively work together to socially distance, we are helping not only ourselves but everyone around us, especially the healthcare sector workers, to get through this one day.
What are your thoughts on these sessions?