Ivey Photography in Midlothian found an innovative way to fill the downtime after mandatory “shelter in place” orders put a halt to social gatherings. With no weddings, galas, or school events to photograph, owner Chris Smith decided to start taking family portraits of local residents at their homes—free of charge!
On Ivey Photography’s Facebook page, Chris writes that he had been thinking of a project called “Community Faces that Make Places.” He envisioned a book about people who lived or worked in Midlothian. His plan “was to showcase beautiful photographs of people at home, at work, or doing what they love, with the people they love.”
Chris says, “I thought about a mix of people from all over town from the Chief of Police, to the guy that carries a raccoon on a motorcycle, to Whataburger. I had a few ideas on how to get it done, but publishing a book is expensive and I would have to sell books, which I’ve never done before.”
Ivey Photography Starts Porchraits
When he heard about communities shutting down across the country, Smith read a news story about a Boston photographer going door-to-door taking photos. He said, “That’s when it all came around. I had my original idea of Community, blended with her idea of door-to-door, and here we are. #PORCHraits.”
“I posted the concept to Facebook at 11:22 a.m. on March 22nd. By noon it had 15,000 views and over 300 shares. Within 24 hours we had 30,000 views, 500 shares and over 700 people signed up. I was overwhelmed. I mean, in the last city-wide election only 1700 people voted. I figured a few people that we knew would say ‘sure come on by, we’ll be home.’ But, so many families signed up and my email box was so full I had to make some adjustments in my plans.”
“As a business owner, I never WANTED to do my job for free. I never wanted to be told that my savings account was about to be a part of saving my business. Every small business owner knows that you always walk a thin line between being ‘rich’ and being closed. It is a scary time for all of us,” Chris writes.
Connecting with the Community
After starting the Porchraits project, Chris says he is eager to see it through. “This project has connected us with Midlothian more than anything we have ever done. We’ve photographed every sport and every team in town, it seems like. We’ve done graduations and weddings and birthdays. We’ve done senior portraits and family photos. And those are each important photographs. But this event, at this time, is historical. And it impacts all of us. And in the end, I believe it was meant to bring us all together. I hope you’ve met a neighbor you didn’t know. I hope you’ve met a teenager living in your house you didn’t know. I hope you’ve met your wife. (HA!) In all cases, I hope this mess brings you closer to the people that matter,” Chris writes for his Facebook post.
“Who knows when or where this ends. My wish is that it ends with a photograph of your family. And one day, you look back and tell your babies about it. ‘Look at this photo. You won’t remember this, but in 2020, we were all locked in the house together for a while. I miss those days,’” Chris writes.
“When I heard about Ivey Photography’s Porchraits, I didn’t hesitate to jump on board. This is such a unique time for families, and I love that they’re documenting it in a positive way. Our family has not had a family portrait in years because we stay so busy. I love that they were able to truly capture our family the way we are in our daily life.” Jill Eastman
Permission to Use Photos and FB Posts
Ivey Photography and Chris Smith graciously provided photos and gave permission for Focus Daily News to use some of his Facebook posts for this article.
Chris said, “We are honestly blown away by the feedback we’ve received. This idea was borrowed from a photographer in Boston. I took her idea and modified it some for our area. When I shared the concept on Facebook it went viral. We have received so many positive messages from the community. We are blessed to be healthy and safe while we complete the project and we wish the same for everyone. The demand for the family photo tells me that people are relishing their time together and that the art of the family portrait is not lost.”
Ivey Photography was started by Ray Ivey in 1977. Current owner and main photographer Chris Smith bought the company in 2008. Ivey Photography is located on Main Street in Midlothian, but for the next few weeks they can be spotted out taking Porchraits, so watch for them in your neighborhood! Follow Ivey Photography on Facebook Live to see if they are coming to your house.