Yep. You read that right. I am stopping this project.... for now.
Photographers across the pages of history are invaluable. Many of us capture split seconds of all types of stories and our photos have the ability to humanize events like this one, and all other life events both big and small, with our cameras. Whether it's a historic event, or a sliver of time captured for the clients we cherish.
But here's the thing, #fromthefrontsteps and #throughthewindow are non essential. As a family photographer, I view myself as a non essential service, and with the announcement in Manitoba that all non essential businesses have been mandated to close from April 1-14 2020, I personally feel that it would be irresponsible for me to continue until these closures are lifted. Will I keep going? Absolutely. When it is safe to do so. I'm sure I could find a loophole that would allow me to continue this project if I tried hard enough. Perhaps there is no loophole needed because of how we were conducting these sessions and the causes we were supporting. But I won't keep going. My conscience won't let me. My heart was telling me it was time to pause this project, even before non essential businesses were asked to close. As the aunt of an immune compromised nephew, I can't keep going right now. I won't be pushing the limits laid out before us.
The group of photographers that I've been working with on the "From The Front Steps" project have unanimously decided that we are all pausing for the time being. We should respect the current directives from the government. We need to set a good example for everyone out there who has been reaching out about this project. We have had the safety of ourselves and our families and our beautiful clients & communities at the forefront of our minds when we made this decision.
I've personally faced a lot of backlash about my "through the window" project and I have heard from many photographer friends who have faced the same, and it's been primarily from other photographers. It hurts. A lot. Especially since the backlash has never been direct. Not one of the people with concerns about this project had the courage to reach out to me personally to discuss it. Not. One. That was a hard pill to swallow. It might still be stuck in my throat. But, I tried to thicken my skin before I went public with this project as I knew there would be backlash. As with anything even remotely controversial there always is. Plus, we are all scared and nervous and navigating uncharted waters currently. So I'm also trying my best to remind myself to take all the hate with a grain of salt, and then wash it down with a glass of wine.
I will say though, that the feedback from the public has been wonderful, supportive and uplifting. I mean, Manitoba's head nurse gave us a shout out during the provincial press briefing yesterday (Click HERE to see it, fast foward to 5:54). I have had health care professionals reach out to me to participate in my window project AND the front steps project. I have had local businesses and politicians do the same. I believe that what have been able to do up to this point has been a good thing. And both my window project, and The Front Steps project group that I have been working with have raised over $10,000 for local charities who have also been hit hard by the current events. So to me, the good far outweighs the bad. I'll take some heat if it means we can help organisations that need it, and put some smiles on faces and give some small sense of normalcy to the families on the receiving end of our shutter clicks amid this chaos.
Though with that said, I'm repeating that I will not be going out again until the non essential business closures are lifted. My aim with all of this has always been to be part of the solution, not the problem. And while I know I am able to conduct these sessions safely, I won't put the integrity of myself and the group I've been working with on the line just so I can keep going.
But don't worry, I'll be back. I have a list of all those who have reached out to me. I WILL honour your portrait once it's safe and advisable to do so.
For now, enjoy what has already been captured.
Thank you all for your support over the years.
Thank you to the incredible group of photographers I've connected with for the "From the front steps" project. I cannot wait until I can hug you all in real life. We have done a lot of good. (If you want to see the beautiful face of Casey Nolin Photography, who brought us together, click here to watch her CBC interview).
Stay safe and healthy my friends.