KALAMAZOO, Mich. — On the other side of the Coronavirus pandemic, how do we want to remember it?
Many may not want to remember it, because it was a time of stress, job loss, sickness or even, death.
A Kalamazoo man whose photography business closed soon after COVID-19 hit Michigan, has found a new focus that's providing memorable and creative images for families during this heightened sense of uncertainty.
"My business dried up," said Brian Powers, who's been a professional photographer for 12 years. "I can't get into my studio, so there was nothing to take pictures of."
He says a little more than a week ago, he saw some news stories from around the United States of photographers traveling around their communities taking 'porch portraits.'
"They are professionally done family portraits, documenting how people are thinking and feeling during this pandemic," said Powers.
He launched a Facebook page and invited all of his contacts to join it. Soon after that, people started scheduling time for him to come to their homes and take the photos.
"On days when the weather has been good, I've done several porch portraits," said Powers. "The pictures are free. I upload them to the Facebook page and people can retrieve them from there and do whatever they want with them."
Some people just want a nice, traditional family portrait taken while others create some signage that best conveys their feelings and mood during this time of extreme uncertainty.
"I've seen all kinds of signs," Powers said. "Some saying, 'We'll get through this; We're in this together; The sun will shine again.'"
Powers respects social distancing during each shoot. He stands at least 20-feet away from the families, while using a telephoto lens to zoom-in close enough to capture each moment.
On Thursday, April 2, an entire subdivision of homes in Kalamazoo, Mi. scheduled to have him come out and take porch portraits.
Powers took porch portraits at 30 different homes that day.
"This is something kids who are old enough are always going to remember," said Rich Walsh, after Powers visited his subdivision and took his family's portrait. "Twenty years from now, they'll be telling stories like, 'I wasn't event allowed to go to school.'"
Welsh went on to say, "This moment in our history is kind of like 9/11, Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy Assassination."
Kristen Rowell, who lives in the same subdivision, says she was very exited when she saw the Facebook post about Brian's porch portraits.
"It's definitely had to keep spirits up during this time," said Rowell. "This is a very weird time and I wanted to have a family portrait to remember how strong we were through all of this."
Powers says he's closing in on having taken close to 100 different family porch portraits in the short time he's been doing it. While most of his clientele has been in and around the Kalamazoo area, he says he's willing to drive elsewhere in West Michigan to capture these images for people.
"So far, I haven't had anybody say, 'Stay home,'" said Powers. "I'd like to do this for as long as I can and for as long as people want it."
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