7 tips for family photos during COVID-19 self isolation and social distancing

Usually, my blog posts for family photos are written, planned and scheduled 6 months in advance. These tend to focus on showcasing my recent work or for sharing tips and tricks. My goal is to reach out to my past, recent and future clients in hopes of providing beneficial information to them through knowing and working with me. Never before had I even thought of writing a blog post such as this one. To be clear, I do not want to overuse the current social situation. However, I do want to add some light and continue to share useful ideas during such an uncertain time in everyone’s lives.

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To begin, I would like to share my own situation and personal experience.

I felt first-hand the moment that the COVID-19 situation became a pandemic for the world. Last week, on the 9th of March 2020, I departed from Canada to visit my father in Macedonia. Before the trip, I was watching the news closely and was cautious about the COVID-19 situation in Italy. However, once I landed in Skopje I was faced with the hard reality of it. Nurses and police were everywhere, filling the airport. Obviously, I began to feel panicked. Instead, I kept my emotions in check while visiting and helping with my father. At the same time, I was staying informed through social media and the news daily.

It was priceless to be able to spend a couple of days with my father. I used this time to help him prepare for what was to come. To my amazement, the Macedonian Minister of Health was being very proactive and was ahead of many other parts of Europe in response. I was so proud of my home country and their quick response to such an unprecedented situation. Seeing that my father was safe and had supplies on hand, I began to look into my departure date. I trusted my gut feeling as I was watching the situations escalate from hour to hour and decided I had to leave Macedonia early before it was too late.

Once the pandemic was announced, the race was on!

The airline customer service phone lines were understandably busy and I had no way of canceling my original return flight or changing them at all. Feeling the time constraint, I bought an additional $2,000 ticket to come back to Canada. Once we successfully booked the flight, I realized I would be leaving Macedonia in only four hours’ time! Although my original ticket was still valid, I had this ominous feeling that it could be canceled at any time. I felt a huge sense of relief when I turned on my phone at Toronto Pearson mere hours later. Then, I received a text message that my original flights had been canceled. Two days after my new flight, one day before I was to originally leave, Macedonia shot down the airports.

While all of this was happening, my wife and kids had left the house for their long-awaited March Break plans at their Papa and Grammie’s. My wife had planned to drop the kids off and return home, but that was quickly changed. All three of them stayed at her mom’s house to help keep me in self-isolation for 14 days after my return trip. As I’m writing this, I am in Day 7 of isolation. I am self-monitoring but am clear of symptoms and plan to remain that way!

While staying home bombarded with TV, social media news and other sources of information, I couldn’t help feeling afraid, stressed and negative.

How can we fight back with positive thoughts with your family photos?

I have been reading more and more stories of Italian families who share their experiences of being directly impacted by the COVID-19. In the same way, I would like to use my expertise and knowledge to help families staying home as part of social distancing. Without a doubt, isolation is extremely difficult yet so important at the same time. In response, I have come up with 7 tips and ideas to inspire you to use this time with your family and children to strengthen your bond. At the same time, you will also be documenting your own experience during this important moment in history.

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1) Memory creations

The most impactful way to capture those memories is, of course, photographs. Almost everyone has their smartphones and no is the time to put them to good use. Instead of constantly scrolling through negative news in your social media feeds, use that phone to take photos of your kids, yourselves and the activities that they are doing. A journal is an amazing way to keep these memories for the future years when your children will be sharing their memories of the “Quarantine of 2020” with their own children. How about the recipes you are making now that you have the time to attempt them? Photos of the finished results can be handy for when you are ready to share on social or update your family cookbook. No time like the present!

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2) Free eBook offer, 364 Photography, Capture Family Moments

If you are feeling too inexperienced to capture all of these moments, there is no need to worry! Certainly, we can’t be an expert in everything. However, I feel as though this is where I can come in to help. I’m offering my eBook for free downloads to anyone looking to learn a bit about taking pictures of their family. I wrote 364 Photography, Capture Family Moments a few years ago when I started to help my clients to learn to photograph their own families for 364 days of the year. I reserved the remaining day for when we scheduled their professional family photos with me, of course! For the free download, please go to my website or click here to access the book. No name, email or personal information is required and no data will be collected. Simply download and use it.

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3) Take a portrait every day and create a time-lapse. When to do that? Now is the time.

With school being closed indefinitely, families everywhere are creating schedules to keep their households manageable. This gives you the opportunity to work time for a portrait of each family member into these schedules. If possible, doing one in the morning and one in the evening each day would be amazing. Encourage your kids to be creative with their hairstyles, accessories, and props. It is important to keep consistent with the cropping so that when you go to edit your time-lapse video, the transitions will be smooth and fun to watch. Another fun activity to do at this time is a video diary. My littlest boy just lost his 2nd tooth during this time (the tooth fairy is apparently immune to the need for social distancing!) Presently, we have the time to spare so why shouldn’t this moment of his life be documented?

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4) Slow-motion lego, toys games for kids

To keep connected with the family while in isolation, I was on a video call with my eldest son the other day. He was excited to show me the slow-motion video he created with his Lego and other toy figures. I was simply amazed at how well he put it all together and how engaged he was with it. He totally didn’t clue in to how much he was learning while he was doing it: from character development, set design, storytelling, and coding. There is a multitude of free apps that can help you with putting together a stop motion video but the one that we love in my house is Stop Motion Studio. Hopefully, my son will finalize his video (he’s always adjusting something in it) and will be available for me to post in the coming days for you to see it.

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5) Pull out all of your printed family photos

I am sure we all have a box collecting dust that is full of so many photos from past generations. These are photos from our parents and family gatherings from years before the digital age. Please go find them and take the time to view them with your family. Spending time during the day connecting with family and reliving some great memories is an amazing way to bond. Your children will love to hear what each photo was about and what else you remember about that day too. Perhaps it’s also a great time to pull out a pen and write the date, year or the occasion on the back of the image too. Connecting with others through visual memories is a great way for your children to have social stimulus and they learn a bit more about their family heritage as well!

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6) Going through hard drives and file storages, organizing files

It is so time-consuming to go through and organize the bazillion of digital photos that we take with those smartphones each day. Unfortunately, we do not realize the importance until we lose our phones or have to buy a new memory card instead. So many of the photos are not curated, labeled, organized or even safely stored. I am not even talking about backing them up or heaven forbid printing them! Who has the time? Um, you actually might now! No time like the present to organize them in a way that you can understand so that you can easily find and share them with your family. Don’t forget that important back-up step too!

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7) Preparing for prints once this is over

Seeing as though you are sorting through those images anyway, go ahead and create a “PRINT” folder. Here, you can easily drag some dear, impactful and print-worthy files into. When social distancing is a thing of the past, there will be no excuse for you to delay in printing them. Just think of how beautiful your displays will be with updated images of amazing family moments!

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Until then, please stay positive, vigilant, safe and informed. Be easy on yourself and take the time to rest too. When the end of isolation is near, I know we will all be ready to bounce back and enjoy our social connections in person again!

Over and out from the self-isolation headquarter and photo studio in Guelph.

Photos taken by Dragi Andovski, published ©2020 DA Photography
Photo Location(s): Ottawa, Rockwood, Toronto, Georgetown, North York, Oakville, Maple, Etobicoke, Caledon, Sutton, Brampton, Mississauga, Burlington and Guelph.
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