A Camas photographer is doing her part to document the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past few days, as more Camas families “shelter in place” to avoid getting or passing the deadly virus, photographer Lara Blair has been traveling through Camas neighborhoods and photographing families in front of their homes.
Blair, who communicates with the families through social media to arrange photo shoot times and always maintains a safe distance of at least 6 feet, is calling her project “Stronger Together … Yet Six Feet Apart.”
“The response has been amazing and has really lifted me up,” Blair says. “I plan to hang the images in my new studio behind Natalia’s (in downtown Camas) in April.”
The idea is part of a larger, national project known as the Front Steps Project (www.thefrontstepsproject.com), in which photographers throughout the country are trying to document regular American families who are staying home in an effort to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Blair, a former educator who now runs a photography studio in downtown Camas, was trying to stay busy during the early days of the pandemic, making free, online photography tutorials for children and thinking of ways she might be able to offer support to parents at home with children during the state’s six-week school closure.
“I’ve been working nonstop since this started, but I missed taking photos,” Blair says. “I was wondering if there was a way I could still take pictures and then someone sent me a link to a photographer in Boston who thought of (photographing families on their front steps).”
Blair asked her friend, Ernie Geigenmiller, who runs a local lifestyle magazine, to post her efforts on his website and Camas families started to reach out to the photographer online.
“It exploded. Everyone in the area knew family or friends who wanted me to come and take their photos,” Blair says. “I’ve been going to different Camas neighborhoods all week.”
The new “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order from Washington Governor Jay Inslee, which will shutter all non-essential businesses for two weeks beginning Wednesday evening, has put a damper on Blair’s plans, but the photographer is still hitting several Camas neighborhoods today to take as many photos on her list as she can before sheltering in her own home for the next two weeks.
The project is meant to document the pandemic on a local level as well as to help build community and benefit Camas families in need.
“I’ve been asking people, ‘What is keeping you sane during this time?’ and posting all of the photos to my Facebook and Instagram and blog sites,” Blair says. “I’m also asking for donations to the Camas School District’s (Family Community Resource Center).”
The photographer is sending full resolution digital photos to families who make donations to the school district’s resource center, which provides food, clothing and household items to at-risk Camas students.
When life returns to normal, Blair hopes to keep going with the project, perhaps creating a book of her images and going into other Clark County communities to document families in their post-pandemic lives.
Having talked to families about this unchartered time of social distancing, Blair says she feels like there will be “amazing things that will come out of this.”
“I’ve heard of neighbors helping each other … and people are focusing on family time. The spiritual families are being devotional and the active families are playing outside in the yard and taking walks. I think there will be good things that come from this. It’s just sad that it takes a pandemic to do that.”
To learn more about Blair’s “Stronger Together … Yet Six Feet Apart” project, visit larablairphotography.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/larablairphotography or on Instagram at @larablairphotography.
Families who would like to see if Blair has time to take their “front steps” photos today or after the governor’s stay-home order has lifted, should text the photographer at 360-980-2413.