Updated: Jun 3, 2020
Free photos outside your home to uplift the community and ease the stress of social isolation.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has been challenging for all of us. Our family, friends, and associates have been impacted and we have been tested like never before. Personally, I had 3 friends fall deathly ill during the outbreak. My routine changed from sending memes and enjoying life to making morale phone calls and dropping off care packages.
So, what can we do? We went to the community and captured portraits (one posed one candid) of our friends and community members outside their home! We practiced social distancing of 6-12' wearing masks and appropriate protective gear.
I do all this at my own expense. Its important to meet people at their need when they are going through so much financially; so the service I provide is FREE!
The event gives everyone something to look forward to, provides a break from the monotony of social isolation, and will be a great historical keepsake of this unprecedented time in world history; bad hair cuts, and all! We want to focus on Fairfax County and nearby areas but will consider larger areas if we can budget for the expenses.
You can find out how to get your own picture at my photography site.
I'm learning so much about my friends and community during this event. And it warmed my heart to help others feel... normal.
I shot a number of community members and they were all so appreciative. What I did not expect were the interactions that came after the photoshoots.
I purposely simplified the photography by only taking a couple of pics with a basic setup. This was not my usual system. I had to adapt to not having control of light and being limited by the space of the environment. This means not all photos would have the same consistent look us pros strive for. But Coronavirus has taught me that we have to get out of our comfort zones and adapt to the new normal as we currently understand it.
I also shot most of the pictures with a special lens that allowed me to stay at a distance of 70-200mm; providing 6-12'. This means I had to use a lens that was very expensive at over $2000. Photography is far from cheap. I lost an expensive flash during the shoot, but that's a part of the business. To prevent loss and damage, I usually shoot with assistants but they have been hunkering down and making sense of their new normal. So it's just me and more risks.
All that being said, the sessions should have only been 20-30 minutes. However, my average session lasted about 2 hours due to the fascinating conversations that occurred afterward.
2nd Lt Ford
Lt Ford just graduated and will be embarking on a new career in the military. I was connected with him via a friend and client named Natasha @thetelltaletasha. And Natasha I collaborate a lot on her sewing blog and she has been published as a model numerous times from my photography with various big-name companies. It was a pleasure to capture her cousin's momentous occasion during such difficult times.
I had a great time connecting with Lt Ford as we discussed his career goals. My experience with the military enabled me to give him some insights on his career, what to expect, and gave him an introduction to the rivalry between the branches of the military, which brought a lot of laughs. His mom was also present and she is a military retiree.
His family hails from Panama and represent generations of college educated, immigrants that live in affluence and make the U.S. a better place.
I also had the opportunity to photograph yet another military family. The Mitchell's are members of my church and they jumped at the chance of capturing this moment in time with a portrait. After the shoot, we discussed so many topics: From potential conspiracies surrounding the virus to dating and relationships. I try to temper my "blabbering." I can talk to any subject, but usually, my forced choirs are left with regret😅! I learned years ago that even though I may have an opinion or may even be an expert, you need to be sensitive to people's time and attention.
But to my surprise, most people I worked with during the project were not only more open to engaging conversation, but seemed to thrive on it!
Maybe one thing Coronavirus has given us is more of an attention span and appreciation for the weightier topics of life. I appreciated the discussion on relationships, faith, and truly enjoyed the new connection with their family.
Our next shoot was with the Douglas'. The patriarch of the family is a great friend of my father. His relationship with my late grandmother and how he reminds me of how special she was brought back great memories and is a breath of fresh air for Northern Virginia as the area is not that community-focused for transplants like me. Hearing them refer to me by my nickname is always comforting and hearkens back to an era of my life when it was all about family. One member of the family missing was the oldest. We became cool when he moved to Hawaii. I was also living there and showed him the ropes on the island. Friends and connections go so far and it all adds up to having credibility and respect when those same friends connect later in the future. For men, its all about credibility and respect and I love the mutual relationship I have with them based on the same.
We discussed just about everything from the recent deaths of young men by the hands of police officers (#ahmaudarbery #georgefloyd), to government contracting and mentoring, to... you guessed it, relationships! I spent about 5 hours with the Douglas' and it was great connecting with yet another family of veterans and their sons who are currently attending college in the midst of the pandemic. And what a huuge home!
Regarding media and photography, my goal is to be poised to support business owners like Regarding media and photography, my goal is to be poised to support business owners like Sherra when its time to get back to business with premium media. As the pandemic spread, I was happy to give insights to her on the opportunities the shutdown could bring to her business, Girlfriends in the Burbs (GITB).
You see, in addition to being a photographer, I also own several businesses. I stay aware of marketing opportunities and business growth for self and my photography clients.
I spoke to Sherra and mentioned there were great opportunities to have her social gatherings online. People need a sense of socialization and doing so online can meet that need. My personal opinion is that many of her patrons may appreciate being online vs. dressing up and facing traffic goes out. But there is definitely a balance. Sherra is doing virtual happy hours, and a number of other online events.
Coronavirus has shown me that a big part of being a photographer is consulting with your customers. Something I've done in the past but even more so now. That may or may not involve selling them something. Sherra host's a great group of ladies with GITB. African American women are the largest growing group of entrepreneurs as well as most educated. I'm so humbled that they support me so consistently. Such a blessing! I'm certain that if I were a lady, I would be a Girlfriend in the Burbs. 😄
Concerning the entrepreneurs I support, my philisophy is new opportunities are arising for our community of clients. It's been obvious that over the last decade that print as well as brick and mortar businesses have been struggling. If anything, this pandemic has all but confirmed the old way of doing business will not return. Additionally, wise entrepreneurs are quickly realizing the future of their livelihood requires harnessing cutting edge digital content with premium media. Gone are the days of low budget marketing with cell phone video and photography. Especially when everyone, to include your competition, will now be online!
Regarding media and photography, my goal is to be poised to support business owners like Sherra with premium media when it's time to get back to business.
O is a friend and is so committed to the making the community better. She's the best for connecting opportunities with entrepreneurs. I can thank her for bringing several gigs to my attention to include a successful contract working with Leadership Loudoun. Her son, Owen is a genuine superhero who channeled his inner Hulk during the shoot ☺️. I spoke to O about community support for entrepreneurs. It can sometimes be rough. But she is the type of person in the neighborhood that you look forward to blessing with something free; she is the heartbeat of community.
During the Covid 19 pandemic I spent a lot of time helping families fill the gap by allowing them to not only have a respite from the stress of isolation, but in commemorating accomplishments. One outreach campaign Im especially proud of was serving graduates in the Fairfax County area. All the subjects were recipients of scholarships for $1K from Life Ticket Church. The criteria involved them supporting the community and writing an essay. I partnered with Brittany, CEO of Luxy Balloons and provided flowers and balloons to celebrate the winners. The formula included, yet again, visiting families at their homes and supporting them at their need.
Overall, I started my #COVID19Candids projects as a blessing for the community. On the contrary, I've been blessed by the same. Our community is incorporating new values, taking time to focus on their families, and more appreciative and engaged with those around them. I've also realized more than ever that we as entreprenuers need to meet people where they are suffering. That includes not selling or soliciting, but serving.
You can find out how to get your picture at my photography site.
We are also accepting donations for those who want to contribute to the project and help us expand out of Fairfax County to other areas of the DMV. Supporters can contribute by donating to CashApp via $CCPPHOTOS or PayPal via PayPal.Me/CCPphotos
Thanks for joining me during this amazing journey and special thanks to the families and friends!
With my usual compliments,