Photographer Helps Families Smile During Coronavirus Lockdown

Kira Derryberry is staying connected to clients while we’re all staying home
Kira Derryberry is spreading some sunshine while also staying in touch with clients.
© Kira Derryberry
Kira Derryberry is spreading some sunshine while also staying in touch with clients.

Feeling saturated by bleak news and negative social media during the global coronavirus pandemic, Kira Derryberry, M.Photog.Cr., CPP,  went in search of an antidote. She knew she wasn’t the only one looking for a bright spot in her home-bound days.

Hoping to spread a little happiness, Derryberry launched the Stay at Home Photography Series. It's a lighthearted weekly how-to that’s designed to give clients and others who follow her blog a creative challenge while cooped up with their families. Each easy-to-execute project is designed to open up parents’ creativity and bust up family boredom.

“Part of this was to do our part and reinforce what we’re all supposed to be doing: staying at home,” she says from her own home in Tallahassee, Florida. “My hope is that people will be making the best of it. I want people to keep photographing their children and put some positive images in the news feeds.”

With nearly every family event and milestone moment being cancelled or postponed, Derryberry hopes these projects will give parents a way to continue documenting their children’s lives and capture impromptu family moments.

Valarie Hulgan is a client who took on of Derryberry's first Say at Home assignment.
© Valarie Hulgan
Valarie Hulgan is a client who took on Derryberry's first Stay at Home assignment.

Derryberry’s first assignment, Make Faces, outlines an easy way for novices to get engaging portraits of kids using bright window light and a blank wall, then create a collage for a social post. She provides links to useful apps and tutorials to get parents up to speed. Some simple posing ideas help amateurs get different and fun facial expressions.

“I want to teach parents to be more creative with what they have,” she says. “Each weekly project is simple enough that there’s really no learning curve, and they can use their phone and a few phone apps. But it’s more than just taking snapshots.”

The second project in the series, Sprinkle in Some Fine Art, goes outside for a bit of water play with a tried and true favorite, the lawn sprinkler. In this one, she alludes to texture, composition, and angles, coaching parents to try several different camera angles to capture interesting images.

Each week, Derryberry is posting a suggested assignment along with instructions that families can follow.
© Kira Derryberry
Each week, Derryberry is posting a suggested assignment along with instructions that families can follow.

Derryberry has received glowing feedback from clients, many of whom are eagerly sharing with their friends. And she’s had some exposure in her local media. While the project isn’t taking the place of sessions during this forced downtime, Derryberry hopes the posts and media attention will help keep her top of mind when American life returns to normal.

“Anything we can do to stay relevant and put content out there is important right now,” she says. “I’m fully operating on the sense that things are going to come back, and I want to be prepared for it. I’m not just sitting at home not working.”

To that end, Derryberry hung new wall samples in her studio (it’s a quarantine-safe zone, as she’s the only one working there) and has plans to release a video and virtual tour so clients can see what she’s been up to. She’s also turning her mind toward other marketing tactics until she can get back to booking and photographing sessions. Meanwhile, the Stay At Home series is brightening her days.

“Social media is such an outlet for us right now,” says Derryberry. “The more happy kid pictures we can put out there, the better mood we’ll be in.”

Stephanie Boozer is a writer in Charleston, South Carolina.