I love a good portrait, like the one above that I photographed several years ago.
But despite that, it’s time to hit the pause button. It’s time to stop doing the trend which has become so popular among photographers as of late — porch portraits.
Earlier this week, the Professional Photographers of Canada came out and asked Canadians to halt the practice of photographing porch portraits due to concerns regarding the spread of Coronavirus. We haven’t heard from an organization about this in the U.S. yet — I’m looking at you, Professional Photographers of America — but it’s really time to halt this project.
You might ask why. After all, the entire idea behind porch portraits is to stand far away and have the family stand on their porch, abiding by the 6-foot rule. The fact of the matter is, you’re still exposed as a photographer, and likewise, so is the family.
There are several risks you take when photographing porch portraits, though you might not think about it.
For one, you’re most likely driving to these people’s homes. If you were to get in a car accident, would your insurance company question you about why you were out doing non-essential travel? Would you be taking up time of first responders, or worse yet, a much-needed bed at a hospital?
But furthermore, there are risks when you’re at the family’s home. When you arrive at a home, what do you do? Probably knock on the door or ring a doorbell. Coronavirus can live on surfaces.
Some families were also breaking the rules and having their grandparents over, who did not live with them. This defeats the whole purpose behind a porch portrait, and again opens you and the primary family open to contamination.
Finally, some photographers were bringing things like white boards and tablets to help communicate posing and other ideas. Again, you risk contamination.
N95 masks are impossible to find, and so are latex gloves. Sure, you can bring hand sanitizer, but that doesn’t mean you’re making yourself and the family immune to the virus.
Instead of pushing these porch portraits now, when everyone else is inside and worried about the Coronavirus, take a hiatus. Tell families that you want to capture them as they come out of the woodwork, when things start to open back up and return to normal. Doing so will keep you and your clients safe.
For now … let’s leave those porches empty.