Local businesses supporting other local businesses : The Stay Home Project

By Dani-Elle Dubé

“We want others to see we are still here and are waiting on the sidelines to captures everybody’s memories,” photographer Emily Brown of Diamondview Photography in Kanata said. “It’s hard. Everybody wants to be working and be out there — remaining present.”

Brown, who is going on her 11th year as a professional newborn baby photographer, has teamed up with with 36 other photographers in the city, to support one another during the COVID-19 pandemic through an initiative titled the “Stay Home Project.”

The “Stay Home Project,” wants to both remind others to stay home but also that local photographers who do their best work capturing life’s precious moments — wedding, babies, etc. — will still be around for their clients when COVID-19 comes to an end.

To get the word out, the project gathered 35 other photographers, lead by Brown alongside fellow Rockland-based photographer Stacey Laviolette of Stacey Laviolette Photography and Orleans-based photographe Melissa Gauthier. 

Brown is also the administrator for the Ottawa Professional Women Photographers group as well as the regional coordinator for the non-profit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep — which offers remembrance photography for stillbirths and brand new babies that won’t make it home.

The project came together last weekend and will continue until further notice.

The “Stay Home Project” idea originated in the United States, Brown says, but caught the eye of Laviolette who wanted to do something similar in Ottawa. 

Adhering to the provincial physical distancing restriction that were put in place by the Ontario government, Brown, Gauthier and Laviolette realized that a previous project, “The Front Steps Project,” would have to be put on hold for now. But that didn’t mean the duo was going to stop there.

“It was pretty neat,” Brown said. “Everybody totally jumped on board because we really wanted people to know, ‘We miss our clients and we really want to be working right now, but just stay home.” There are a lot of professions that have to go to work so we just want to do our part and say we’re staying home, everybody stay safe, but we can't wait to get back and capture those memories when we can.”

That’s when they brought the “Stay Home Project” to Ottawa, in hopes to continue to keep people’s spirits up and support the local professional photography community. 

So what they’ve done instead is gather a group of local women photographers to help send that message of unity out to the public, that they will still be there for their clients and life’s precious moments when the pandemic is all over with.

So the 30-some women got together (separately) and each wrote a word or two down on signs, took their own photos and sent them to Gauthier who put them together to send out that exact message. That message was put out in the form a collage.

“A healthy community is one we create together. Protect our family and yours. Love your neighbours. Honour our frontline and essential workers. Keep our vulnerable community members safe. Please stay home. We can’t wait to capture your memories again soon.”

Each of the photographers took their own photos inside their home and Brown and Laviolette put them all together in one unifying message.

It generated so much interest that Brown and Laviolette had to turn people away. But other photographers around the province were inspired and decided to start their own “Stay Home Project” and group.

There is no payment to be involved. The only criteria for interested photographers wanting to join is that they must be professional photographers. Those interested or wanting more informaiton can go to Facebook through the Ottawa Women’s Professional Photographers group. 

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