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Photographers Told to Stop Running Photoshoots on People’s Doorsteps

Porch and front door photography sessions have exploded in popularity since the lockdown, but photographers in Canada are now seeing a pushback against the practice.

Porch portrait sessions have been the subject of much debate in photography circles, with arguments about whether they are essential, further compounded by official advice varying greatly from one region to another. The Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) has now released a statement asking photographers to stop.

“PPOC recommends that these Front Porch type of sessions do not take place at this critical time,” the statement reads. It acknowledges that the sessions can be argued both ways but has come to the conclusion that photography “is not an essential service or business” and its continuation cannot be justified in light of directions from Canada’s health officials.

Many photographers were offering their front door sessions for free, with clients making donations made to food banks or supporting other local services. Despite these good intentions, photographers are now being encouraged to stop in the interests of public safety and respect for government guidelines.

No doubt the debate will continue. Be sure to check out this article, which explores it further. Many point out the low risk presented by such photoshoots, making them justifiable. In contrast, others observe that people shouldn’t be allowed to pick and choose when the “stay at home” advice can be ignored.

What do you think? Is PPOC overstepping? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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All I see is cities with 30 to 40% unemployment rate that doesn't have a single case.

In my state here in Brazil only 6 of 82 cities have any cases and all of them are locked down.

I don't know if government wants us to stay inside until a vaccine is deployed, but they sure won't tell what their plans are

vik .'s picture

don't hold your breath it will get to all of those cities.


Well you keep people inside for 2 months when there isn't a single case. When it actually gets here no one will want or even be able to stay inside.

Karim Hosein's picture

Staying inside is how one prevents it from getting there. Every one who moves around is a potential vector. If they can minimise the spread, by minimising potential vectors, until a vaccine/cure is found, (and there are few cures for viruses), means the fewer people dead, and the sooner we can all get back to “normal.”

super steel_'s picture

a lot of countries governments are winging it as they go along. they are not clear and concise

I think porch pictures are played out after their first week, but to each their own.

Jason Frels's picture

That is sort of built on the assumption that the published numbers are correct, but the numbers are based on very limited testing and diagnosis. Many people who have it never seek medical care and are only counted if the die, maybe. You don't know how many people have it, but it must be a lot because it is spreading like fire.


It still is true. Over 80% of municipalities are Corona free still. What is your argument?

Karim Hosein's picture

The arguments are that, ① your data was flawed. Here is the real data for 13th April 2020.

Here is a Google translated excerpt from the home page, that day (5:45pm).
Bahia records 723 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), which represents 7.36% of the total reported cases. To date, 4,914 cases have been discarded and there have been 22 deaths, 11 in the municipality of Salvador and 11 in the municipalities of Lauro de Freitas (2), Gongogi (1), Itapetinga (1), Utinga (1) and Adustina (1) , Araci (1), Itagibá (1), Uruçuca (1), Ilhéus (1) and Vitória da Conquista (1).

This number counts all January records until 5 pm on Monday (13). In all, 164 people are recovered and 66 are hospitalized, 28 of them in the ICU. These data represent official notifications compiled by the Center for Strategic Information in Health Surveillance in Bahia (Cievs-BA), together with the municipal Cievs.

Confirmed cases are distributed in 74 municipalities in the state, with a greater proportion in Salvador (53.67%).

Now, let's look at yesterday, 19th April 2020 (17:00 a.k.a., 5:00pm)).

Which brings us to argument ②, that without social distancing, and stay-at-home compliance, it spreads like hot butter on a breakfast toast.

Brandon Goodyear's picture

Honestly think more places should be tracking and shutting down these porch sessions. As much as we like to think we're an "essential business" we need to put the ego down for a second and figure something else out to make it through this. Filling the streets with more non essential people makes the problem even worse.

jay holovacs's picture

The determining question should be 'safe or not safe'. It should NOT be 'essential or not essential'. That is totally irrelevant to the issue.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Exactly! Most of online electronics shops are absolutely non-essential. But they still work.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

I don't disagree with you. But deflecting to discuss something else doesn't answer the first question.
As for safe versus essential. Anything that isn't essential isn't safe. Where is the debate in that?

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Getting a package from Amazon is not essential and unsafe. But still allowed. Taking photos from a distance is not essential and safe.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

I'm not talking about the sense in what Amazon is doing. I'm only talking about photography - particluarly front porch sessions.
I'm of the opinion that Amazon should stop shipping non-essential products unless they are coincedental to a shipment of essential products. Too many shippers putting themselves and the community at risk.

Andrew Johnson's picture

Trucking is essential and can be a very unsafe job. Oil rig workers are essential and can be very dangerous. Civil construction can be unsafe as well but its absolutely essential. Your logic doesn't work when you apply it.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

No. That's not what I meant. Perhaps lost in tone.
Oil is essential and is unsafe, agreed. If something isn't essential, engaging in it today is unsafe. Things that are typical unsafe can still be essential, and unsafe. Does that make more sense?

Alexander Petrenko's picture

What about non-essential and safe? Like watching Netflix?

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

I found it interesting that Netflix cut their output. Having about a billion people trying to stream at the same time across the variety of platforms would have to cause some havoc.

Andrew Johnson's picture

That makes more sense but still making the generalization about something not be essential therefore you couldn't do it safely is just not right. There are plenty of non essential things that you could do that are perfectly safe.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Sure - weeding my garden in my backyard is not essential, but safe. I agree.
Things that involve the public space that are not essential aren't really safe. I'd maintain that walks close to home are essential. I'd also maintain that entertainment at home is essential.
I wouldn't say that getting my newest coffee grinder delivered is essential. All things being equal.

David Lantrip's picture

Think of it in this light. Many people do not have recent family pictures where everyone is together in one picture. if one of the family members contract the virus at a later date The photographer may have captured a very significant photograph for the surviving family members.

Timothy Turner's picture

Take a selfie

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

Family photographers haven’t been in hiding prior to the quarantine.

If a family living under the same roof doesn’t have any recent family pictures, it’s because having those pictures is not important to them.

Billy Walker's picture

PPOC is not overstepping. It is merely another opinion being thrown into the mix. Nothing more, nothing less.

I think the powers that be really need to concentrate on grocery store safety. Having gone shopping yesterday for the first time in a number of weeks it was obvious common sense rules surrounding this virus were being ignored by many. The return on investment going after porchers is surely nothing compared to the millions that go food shopping.

We have lost perspective...

Andrew Johnson's picture

This is one million percent correct.
People bitch and complain about photographers taking porch photos and those same people go to the store that has hundreds of people in it at a time and all those people touch things they don't buy and use self checkout kiosks without cleaning them first, and use carts that haven't been cleaned, etc.

Logic and sense are not common in the world these days.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

I can be against porch sessions as a 'thing' and still think that the grocery stores are 'crazy' right now.

Andrew Johnson's picture

Are you applying porch sessions based on your location as being unsafe therefore thinking that is true in every place? If you are in a major city like NY then sure i'd agree but what if you live in Big Sky Montana where there are zero cases? You see the point I'm trying to make? Context matters.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

I've been assuming that we're talking about the very public cases of porch sessions - in big cities. If you're in rural Montana - or the like, I have a lot less of a problem with it.

Michael Roach's picture

About to start in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Not urban, but not super rural. I created a separate thread to answer all your questions :)

MC G's picture

I mean compared to other risks factors in society..just how many porch photographers can their be that it would make a difference either way?!? lmao

Karim Hosein's picture

Assume that their exists 101 independent populations, and also assume that within each population, their exists vectors within that population. Also assume that one, and only one, of those populations has any infected. Also assume that their is no vector between populations. (Of course not. We have already assumed, “independent”).

Query: what is the probability that any one other population will get infected?

Answer: approximately 0.0000000000, correct to ten decimal places.

Now introduce one, and only one, inter-population vector.

Query: what is the probability that all 100 remaining populations will get infected?

Answer: approximately 1.0000000000, correct to ten decimal places.

Yes. It makes a difference.


Alexander Petrenko's picture

It IS safe thing to do.

Brad Smith's picture

so, you're doing a porch session and the families' 6 year old runs to you and touches you as you try to make them smile.'s not safe. It's not essential. It's just stupid.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Never seen 6-year old running to me in first 45 minutes of a session. Probably, you've seen many if you believe the scenario is probable.

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

When I was doing family lifestyle sessions, one time one of the two kids answered the door and jumped into my arms.

Within 30 seconds of ringing the doorbell, I’m standing in the doorway with a kid I’ve never met in my arms.

Then mom comes around the corner and sees me standing there with a “what the heck?” expression on my face.

Looking at her face, it appeared she’d seen that movie before.

You never know what little kids will do.

Michael Roach's picture

Can you please send me your address? I’ll Amazon you some clown shoes :D

I’m about to start doing these sessions. 70-200 only, guess which end I’m shooting at? I have a respirator and gloves. In the event a “child charges me”, I’ll pull out my “pepper spray” and drop the child. Come at me bro. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Vincent Alongi's picture

Bring your long lens and shoot from the street.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

This forces people to go around you, it creates 'traffic' that isn't necessary. No?

Nick Viton's picture

"Traffic"? Have you looked out of a window lately?

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Any traffic. ANY at all is too much. Is that not the idea here?

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

If you drive, you are using gas and stopping at gas stations and putting cars on the street for something that isn't essential. Period.
If you're standing on the sidewalk, or, within 6 feet of the sidewalk, you're making other people walk on the road. That isn't safe. Period.


By this logic we are all viewing this site, which is not essential.

We are wasting electricity and putting a strain on internet connection. This will make everything require more maintenance and increase strain of these workers. Stop using non-essential electricity and internet NOW!

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

One includes the potential for close contact that isn't essential. The other includes electrical operators that are already working. You don't really believe your argument, do you?


No. It is just as absurd as your own. You're making the accusation that using gas makes gas stations work more, using electricity makes electricity workers work more. Same argument.

Both are absurd. You act like the very air is poisonous and that panic atitude is much more dangerous than the virus.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Actually I just don’t think that porch sessions are worth the risk. Clearly we need electricity. Clearly somebody needs gas. Nobody needs a porch session.
At no point did I say the air was dangerous and at no point have I panicked.
You have seen the death toll in NYC? The numbers dying in nursing homes in Canada? How does a porch session fit into that?

Michael Roach's picture

Spoken like a true social justice warrior 🤷🏻‍♂️

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

I’m not really sure what end of the 70-200 to take your comment from.

Karim Hosein's picture

Actually, power companies are claiming a net reduction in power consumption since the shutdowns. Homes filled with people still use far less power than offices filled with people. Who knew?

Oh,… wait…! Everyone did! That is why “peak usage” typically occurs during daylight hours, Mondays through Fridays!

David Pavlich's picture

Any entity is entitled to their opinions. The title of this article states that photographers have been 'told' to stop. But the statement says 'recommends'. PPOC doesn't set policy. I've said this before, if what someone is doing does not go against the policies set by the government, then it's okay to do it. You may not like it, but the rules are the rules.

This is dictated by the rule of law, not the rule of opinion. Practice safe, common sense activities that comply with the rules in your area. Simple.

For the record, I live in Canada.

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