British Columbia·Photos

Physical distance no problem for photographer's new portrait project

Chelsea Smith is used to taking intimate portraits of her clients in her studio. But because of COVID-19, her studio is her car, and her subjects are across the street.

A Victoria, B.C., photographer wanted to give back to her community through a series of portraits

Smith usually works as a boudoir photographer, but she has had to close her studio space during the pandemic and is instead taking photos of people, including this family, on their doorstep. (Submitted by Chelsea Smith)

Chelsea Smith is used to taking intimate portraits of her clients in her studio. But because of COVID-19, her studio is her car, and her subjects are across the street.

Smith, the owner of Vintage Chic Portrait in Victoria, B.C., was inspired to create her new photography project after seeing a similar one in the United States. 

She is taking portraits of people at the front steps of their homes, often holding up messages to loved ones or signs of encouragement. 

"I stay in my vehicle across the street so I'm not getting out. People aren't coming to me. They're staying on their front steps," Smith told host Kathryn Marlow on CBC's All Points West. 

In the age of physical distancing — a directive to stay at least two metres away from other people to avoid getting ill or spreading the infection — Smith has had to shut down her photography studio. 

This project, which she has done for free or by donation to the 1Up Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre, has been her way of giving back to the community.

"[It's] been a lot of fun, and seeing all the beautiful families coming out and holding up signs [is] very powerful and meaningful."

Victoria photographer Chelsea Smith is taking unique pictures of people, including this mother and daughter, on their doorsteps during this public health emergency. (Submitted by Chelsea Smith)

Many, she said, just want to commemorate this strange time.

"I've had some people ask to have it done because they've sold their house and they're moving and they want a picture in front of their house. Lots just want to remember yeah, this crazy time, and the extra at-home time with their family."

Smith provided each portrait for free, but encouraged a donation to the 1Up Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre. (Submitted by Chelsea Smith)
The portrait families created their own signs of encouragement or messages to loved ones. This one says 'Happiness can be found in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.' (Submitted by Chelsea Smith)

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.  

With files from All Points West

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