Nicole O'Neil Photography
Please don't hate me. I am not judging you if you had one done or have done them for others. I just think people haven't truly thought through this, both on the photographer side and the families getting them. I've been seeing a lot more of the photographers I look up to putting out this same message as I am, as well as medical professionals about these sessions. PLEASE read through the end.
Most people know about the porch sessions. It’s a movement started in MA by one photographer where they go to a neighborhood, assuring social distance and taking images of families on their front porch/steps. It has spread across the country.
First, I want to say, it’s a beautiful gesture. At the core, it’s a nice concept. I know many who seem to have had them done and others who were doing them but shut it down as of our stay at home orders. Yet, many are still doing them. Some, just starting. I do get that it’s a nice idea. I DO. But you can STILL raise money for people by staying at home. You can still help people because literally, staying at home is saving LIVES.
But, it never sat okay with me, as a regular person or business owner. I feel I need to be responsible and take the lead. I need to set an example of what to do in these times, when we are being asked to stay home. I wouldn't even go take pictures of my family if they asked right now. I am legit staying home with my sister, BIL and nephew because they were who I was around when this started. I don't even see my boyfriend, my parents, my other family members.
I have watched my friends in Italy suffer, I'm now watching it here. My friends in Italy can't even go for walks anymore and it's because many didn't just stay home and go for some basic short walks. Many took advantage and "bent the rules". This is how it feels with these porch sessions.
Again, I get the gesture. It's a good one. However, is it ethical, legal and how will it reflect on you as a business? Here in MA, as in many places across the country, we were asked to stay at home. Period. We are supposed to not go out on any non-essential trips besides the grocery store/pharmacy/doctor/etc. The purpose of this is to significantly reduce coming into contact with others as much as possible. It feels like people just want to push those rules. I see it when I go walk around our lake when neighbors start with a hello from 10 ft or so away and move closer to each other as they chat. I see it with these porch sessions. I’ve seen and heard of quite a few instances from bystanders that they saw them happening in their neighborhood and the person ended up close to the clients (a dog escaped from the yard and the dad and kids chased after, basically touching the photographer as they went by, a photographer going closer to talk to the clients).
For people wanting sessions, please don't ask. If you ask a photographer who is feeling stressed that they won't make ends meet or just that they want to help others, they may feel more pressure to do them. You can certainly get photos with them with this is over and support them by buying a gift certificate in the meantime. Let's ALL work to keep each there safe and not doing EXTRA things that could put them or others at any risk. What if the photographer driving around to these sessions got in an accident or tripped and fell and needed medical attention. Now is NOT the time to go to the hospital or even a doctor's office so why increase the risk of that happening? You may say, well, that could happen going to the grocery store or out for a walk. YES. But, why add MORE ways that can happen and intentionally?
Now, even if you don’t end up close to them, even if you don’t have anything out of your control happen (i.e. the dog incident), is it still something you should be doing? Technically, in many places the stay at home is an order, not a suggestion. So, technically, this is not legal to be going out as a non-essential worker. You may say, “But I do it for free or charity” (the part that’s super nice and beautiful) BUT, you are still working. Whether it’s for free or you’re giving the money to a good cause, you are out there doing your job. As responsible businesses owners, I’d hope we lead and not follow, that we do what is safest for our communities and clients rather than find ways around the rules set in place that are for the good of everyone.
Social distancing is meant to stop us from doing ANYTHING avoidable. We need to feed our families, we need medications, we need to get gas (or not if we are staying home), we may even need to get our families out to a local park (not playground) or hike because we don’t have a yard. However, that should be done at minimum risk. We don’t have a choice in most of those things. And even in the park or hiking, it’s not the best idea as it’s hard to keep 6 feet away when everyone decided to go out on a warm day to do the same thing. This thing is spreading and it’s spreading FAST.
As a Health Care Professional and photographer (Ten 2 Ten Photography) said
“Viruses don’t fly through the air measuring distance and at the 6 foot mark decide “Oops, I gotta stop infecting now – I’m 6 feet away”. The fact that some people are using 6-feet as a justification for continuing to work shows that they have an inherently incorrect understanding of what social distancing is.” I trust she knows what she’s talking about as she is on the front lines.
Another nurse (Jacklyn Steele or Jacklyn Steele Photography)
Please remember: we are putting our health and the health of our friends and family on the line to take care of you guys. Please do us a favor and stay in. The faster everyone does their part the faster this will all be over!! Your friends will still be there when this is done
As I said, these never sat right with me. I have high risk parents. I’m a slightly higher risk than the average person. Many in my life have immune issues. HOWEVER, that’s not even the point. YOUNG people are getting this and dying. This isn’t a “well, my clients and I are all pretty healthy so I’ll take my chances.” Or, I'm keeping my distance. If I were to find out that I had it and had been around clients, I would absolutely be mortified and it would most certainly affect my business. I would feel even worse if they got it. I've known people who have had to make that call and they felt so terrible having to do so. Even people who recover at home say it’s awful. It’s not a cold. It’s not the flu.
But also, Again, we are being begged by those on the front lines to stay home. That's all they ask.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do your part. We are ALL IN THIS TOGETHER and we all have to abide by the rules. We are NOT essential. Celebrate with sessions after this is over. Book sessions now for when life gets back to normal and we CAN legally and ethically feel good doing sessions. Give tips to your clients to take their own family photo on the steps and book a session for them when this is over. You can still donate to a good cause. You can still collect donations or use your art in some way to donate to a cause from home. Donate to a food pantry, give blood, sew masks or donate to those doing it. BUT PLEASE STAY HOME. PLEASE.
For the health of yourselves.
For the health of your clients.
For the health of your community.
For the health of our first responders, our heroes, on the front lines.
They are asking us to STAY HOME while they put their lives at risk daily.
It's the least we can do.