Easter is a around the corner, and the Easter Bunny visited this family early for a porch portrait. Photo by Deb McNeil Photography

Sylvan Lake photographer captures family life from the front steps

Deb McNeil is taking porch portraits to share the uniqueness of families during COVID-19

A Sylvan Lake photographer is capturing what life is like during the COVID-19 epidemic through porch portraits.

Deb McNeil, of Deb McNeil Photography, is safely capturing a moment in time, by taking family portraits from the front step of their house.

McNeil says she got the idea from other photography friends who were doing a similar projects in larger urban centre, like Calgary and Edmonton.

“I saw other do it and thought Sylvan Lake needs something like this. My whole goal with this project is just to put a smile on people’s faces during this tough time,” McNeil said in a recent phone interview.

Through the free photo session, McNeil has encouraged creativity with items already found at home.

She says there is no need to go out to buy props, or craft supplies to make signs.

During the sessions she has held so far, McNeil says she has had mother’s wearing curlers, kids dressed up as “gangsters” and even an Easter Bunny made an appearance.

“I want everyone to feel as safe as possible during this, and that means using what you have at home and not going out to buy a new shirt or something to make a sign. All that is needed is you and your family in that moment of time,” said McNeil.

McNeil says she is capturing the uniqueness of people and families in Sylvan Lake at this time, during a world-wide epidemic.

Each photo is different from the last, she says. The family photographed may have props, may have special outfits, or may have their windows painted – all of these things McNeil tries to capture in a single photo.

The response from the community has been very positive, McNeil says.

Some photography subjects even thank McNeil for giving them a reason to get dressed that day.

“This is giving them something to look forward to during days stuck at home. It is giving them some form of hope,” she said.

McNeil is also a health care worker, as are a number of her family members. She says seeing people staying home and taking COVID-19 seriously means the world to her.

“It means so much to me… I know it isn’t an easy task, and there is so much out of our control… But to see people staying at home and not taking those risks, I appreciate it so much.”

McNeil is also in talks to do similar sessions with essential businesses, to show her thanks for the people who are still working everyday to keep everyone safe and fed.

She says her photos of essential business will focus on small, local businesses as “that is what ties a community together.”

While the sessions are free, McNeil has accepted donations to the Sylvan Lake Food Bank, which she said will be dropped off April 1.

To date, she has collected roughly $200 and a car-load of food to donate to the food bank.

“I do it all safely. I ask people to leave their donations at the end of their driveway, or to e-transfer their donation to me. And, I stand a safe distance from the families at all time,” McNeil said.

McNeil can be reached through her Facebook page Deb McNeil Photography.

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