The Coronavirus pandemic has caused so many problems in so many areas of our lives. Social distancing and hand washing have become the norms. We smile and wave as we cross the street to avoid people coming towards us. Apart from the terrible death toll and economic impact, the virus has stopped us doing many of the things we would take for granted; hugging our friends and relatives, going for a pint, playing and watching sport. The list is huge.
One thing I hear all the time is that people are missing seeing their families and simple things like a hug. COVID-19 has had a huge impact on portrait photography. One of the most popular requests I receive is for portraits of grandchildren, the third generation of a family and usually made up of two or three sets of cousins. The other popular portrait is the full family; grandparents with their children and grandchildren. Occasionally these include great grandparents too. I just love taking this type of portrait. But how will these look in the future? What will be the impact of social distancing?
I haven’t been able to shoot any socially distanced family group portraits yet, so I have been back through my archives to find examples which will show how family group portraits might look until Coronavirus is beaten. I’ll start with a photograph I took on VE Day 75 in Lymm where I live. All the residents of one street gathered in their family groups outside a house at the end of the street. This is how family group portraits will look when we are allowed to photograph family gatherings. As Government rules on social distancing are relaxed family and friends will be able to meet up again but will have to observe rules. Each family group is two metres apart.
Family group portraits will be very different for quite a while. They will be lasting memories of an event that changed our lives. In fifty or sixty years time those children will be grandparents and their grandchildren will be learning about the COVID-19 crisis in history lessons. Distanced family group photos will become a symbol of the indomitable human spirit of the time.