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My Quarantine Photography Story - Finding Inspiration When the World Stops by Laura Froese

We're delighted to share another Quarantine project with you here. Laura Froese is a Canadian photographer living on the West Coast of British Columbia. She specializes in families and weddings, but also loves to capture newborns as well as documenting her own family. We chose one of Laura's images for our Kitchen gallery in the magazine but we wanted to share more of her beautiful work, together with her story.

Quarantine threw an interesting wrench into my 365 project. How do you document the changing seasons of life when the world feels like it's been put on hold? I admit that, for the first couple of months, my creativity was sapped. I felt like we were just in survival mode, and while I hit my "quota" of 30 images per month, they weren't really telling our story and they weren't inspiring a creative outlet.

Ironically, when our Province announced the first phase of lifting restrictions, it triggered something inside of me - the need to document, and create, and save the moments before they were gone. Suddenly the mundane felt like a unique time in history that would eventually fade in memory. So I started making a mental list of all the things that have changed in our lives and took a photo of each one.

Because my photography is more "lifestyle" in approach vs. documentary I allowed myself to be more deliberate with my images. I knew the story I wanted to tell but I was also feeling an overall lack of energy and drive so creating a single photo felt more do-able than taking a series of images. Let me give you an example. One of the family traditions that has emerged through quarantine is making cinnamon buns every Sunday instead of hitting up the drive-thru for treats. I held a picture in my mind of us all around the table eating those buns together and set up a tripod to capture it. Just a single image, but the story it tells will stay with me for decades to come.

This became the first of many (over time) as I worked through our Covid-19 routine and added mental images to my checklist. There was a lot more baking. We watched a lot of screens. We played a lot of LEGO. We walked. We drank a lot of coffee....

Each image represented a part of my family's quarantine story (I usually created one scene per day or every other day to keep it manageable). And slowly, little by little, the creativity re-emerged - with it came the desire and thrill from creating. Our story became art rather than just survival.

So we went back to Laura more recently to dig a little deeper into her photography experience during Covid-19. We were particularly interested in how she engages the children during her home-time sessions and what this whole experience has taught her. Here's what she shared with us.....

1. How co-operative were your kids with your photography ideas during this time? Can you share any tips with us as we continue life in/out of localised lockdowns?

I have alway striven to make photography fun for my kids when I can.  I try to get them excited for doing something "special".  For example, whenever I want to set up and do a flatlay-type image of them doing something at the kitchen table, I present it as a "surprise activity".  If I want them to face the light, I will play "eye-spy" with them through the window.  If I need something more specific for an image, I will straight up pay them for their time with a treat.  (I once bought an entire bag of mini cookies and called them photography cookies.)  I also let them call the shots and do their silly face poses if they ask, and show them on my camera, so they feel they are a part of it, too, even though I rarely keep those ones.  My oldest (4.5) actually ASKS me to do photos now because he knows it's going to be fun.  

2. And what have you learned from your photography experience during this time. And specifically, what can you tell us about losing and regaining our inspiration? I have been doing a 365 (ish) for years now, and I almost always want to quit or take a break multiple times throughout the year.  Sometimes I give myself a week off and then shoot a whole bunch over the weekend.  I OFTEN shoot every other day, doubling up to make up the lost images.  I always try to have 30/31 images at the end of each month no matter how many I ended up taking on whatever dates.  Being quarantined was no different.  I didn't feel like it.  I wanted to give up.  I FORCED myself to shoot.  I forced myself to document the time.  But I didn't do it to have a perfectly completed project.  I didn't do it because I would feel like a failure if I put my camera down (which is perfectly okay to do, by the way!).  I did it because I knew I would be so thankful later.  I did it because I knew that for every 10 photos I hated, there would be 1 I adored, even in my most uninspired or tired moments.  I did it because I didn't want to forget, and I have never regretted remembering.

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