Let’s talk about those porch sessions, people!
The concept was started by a photographer at the beginning stages of the COVID-10 pandemic here in the US. I was going to link her information here, but I’ve been unable to find it now! If I find her, I’ll edit this to include her information as soon as I can!
Anyway, the intention was to document this time for her neighbors. It is such a beautiful concept: the perfect mix of humor and relatability through this tough time! As photographers, we are story tellers. This is what we were born for.
Since she released her images, social media took to it like crazy, and for good reason. She inspired so many photographers to start offering porch sessions of their own clients and behold: many a beautiful images were born.
So, if it’s so great, why am I not offering them?I get asked this almost daily now so, though I completely adore the concept and intentions behind these sessions, here’s why I’ve chosen not to offer them:
1. The trend was set before so many states and counties went on lockdown. Now, more than HALF the states have imposed lockdown measures and non essential businesses have been asked to stop conducting business. Even if I offered this for free, it’s still part of my business and, as much as I hate to admit it, photography is not an essential business.
2. The lovely state of Utah has NOT issued a state wide lockdown procedure yet, as of today (March 31). However, just because something isn’t yet illegal doesn’t mean it is RESPONSIBLE. There is no magic number of feet apart from people where the virus stops to exist. 6 feet away from someone isn’t this mystical bubble of safety. That number is for essential trips out of the house to help keep you safe while you’re running errands. The whole point of the stay at home movement is to limit exposure. Going out and photographing neighborhoods of people is not limiting exposure, it’s pushing boundaries and I ethically cannot risk my clients like that, MANY of whom are immunocompromised.
3. Even if I was extra safe about these (I’ve seen some photographers shooting from their cars, not posing people, etc), who’s to say other photographers won’t see this work and be inspired to do it in a completely negligent kind of way? What would I actually be encouraging here? ESPECIALLY as a photographer that teaches and mentors other photographers? In addition to that, who’s to say clients won’t be making extra shopping trips for props and outfits, further destroying the point of social distancing?
4. I care about the photography industry too much. We HAVE to bounce back from this. The goal is we all make it. And as passionate as I am about photography, it is STILL my business: it feeds and clothes my family. Most of the photographers offering these are doing so for free (and that’s a GOOD and beautiful and selfless thing). I am genuinely not saying this to be greedy and anyone who knows me knows I donate THOUSANDS of dollars worth of photography volunteer work every year ($5,000 or more to be exact). If I offered free sessions now, how would my business and the thousands of other photography businesses here survive when we CAN all book paying sessions again? Would YOU want to book a summer session when you just got a beautiful collection for free? Be honest, the chances are no. I probably wouldn’t, either.
5. There are other ways to spread joy. Guys, my business is suffering. I KNOW how this is hurting photographers and I also know the rush it is to give such immense joy back to people. Free porch sessions are a fabulous way to get my name out there, and I know this sucks for photographers in ways MUCH deeper than the financial aspects. And I also know there are other ways to be gracious with our talents and resources. Giving to local charities, creating online content, photographing shippable products for other small businesses, shouting out to other businesses that offer online shopping, etc.
I’m not here to judge anyone offering porch sessions or people looking FOR porch sessions. I know a BUNCH of photographers I ADORE who are offering these (and I can give recommendations too!). As I said in the beginning: the concept and intentions are brilliant. Most photographers offering these are doing it with beautiful intentions and are doing what they can to share beauty and hope back to the neighborhoods. The reasons above are just why I’M not offering them, despite wanting very much to! They do not reflect any feelings I have about people who choose to done or people who are currently offering them. I can also provide a list of WELL known photographers who are making this same choice, too… and honestly a few of them (the lawtog included) heavily impacted my decision on this.
Stay safe, guys!
Let’s talk about those porch sessions, people!