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How photography changed for East Coast residents during COVID-19

Amanda Dinn, of Amanda Dinn Photography in Paradise, N.L., captured this photo of the Murphy family this year after being forced to close her business for several months during the first wave of COVID-19. She says people now realize how precious life is and how important it is to capture these moments.
Amanda Dinn, of Amanda Dinn Photography in Paradise, N.L., captured this photo of the Murphy family this year after being forced to close her business for several months during the first wave of COVID-19. She says people now realize how precious life is and how important it is to capture these moments. - SaltWire Network

This has been a tough year without question, but if anything, COVID-19 has reminded us that we truly need to find joy in the everyday, whether it’s a great cup of coffee or a beautiful sunset. Too often, we’re always looking forward to the future and what’s coming next, and don’t focus on what’s right in front of us.

And that’s what Kayla Short, of the Halifax-based lifestyle blog Short Presents, is trying to do - especially through the photographs she takes and posts to social media.

“While we might feel like there’s no point in taking any photos because nothing exciting is happening, I say it’s more important than ever to take them,” she says. “We really need to find whatever it is around us that lights us up and run with it.”

Some might argue East Coast residents are taking fewer photos this year, says Short, but she would argue the opposite, saying she’s seen such amazing content over the last few months. It’s certainly not as though her Instagram has been blank since COVID-19 hit, she says.

“While it would be easy to fall into despair and focus on the have-nots - we can’t travel or we can’t do this or we can’t do that - we have to instead focus on what we do have, and what we can do,” says Short.

Kayla Short, creator of the lifestyle blog Short Presents, says COVID-19 has reminded East Coast residents that we truly need to find joy in the everyday. From what she sees on her social media feeds these days, people are embracing this concept.  - SaltWire Network
Kayla Short, creator of the lifestyle blog Short Presents, says COVID-19 has reminded East Coast residents that we truly need to find joy in the everyday. From what she sees on her social media feeds these days, people are embracing this concept. - SaltWire Network

Short says she's been seeing more people being a tourist in their own backyard and photographing that instead.

“I saw more of the natural beauty of my province than I ever have before, and it honestly made my heart so happy,” she says.

Amanda Dinn, from Paradise, N.L. also knows something about taking pictures. As a professional lifestyle, portrait, wedding, and boudoir photographer working under the name Amanda Dinn Photography, her goal is to capture these special moments for people.

At the start of the year, having just returned from a Las Vegas wedding and portrait international conference, she was set for a busy year ahead, with lots of new goals in mind. Instead, COVID-19 had different plans, shutting her business down between March and June.

To her surprise, when she reopened, it was full speed ahead.

“My sessions did feel a little different to me, as I was always the one to play with the kids, tickle them, roll around in the dirt if I had to,” she says. “But I am still able to capture the same moments.”

Dinn says she feels like 2020 has changed our perspective on life. "Life is short, and precious, and my clients wanted to capture that," she says.

Kayla Short says she’s seen more photos this year capturing the natural beauty of her own province. - SaltWire Network
Kayla Short says she’s seen more photos this year capturing the natural beauty of her own province. - SaltWire Network


Recording memories

Another way people are capturing these COVID-19 memories is through scrapbooking.

Kelly Hilchey-Wilson, who operates My Stamping Studio in Windsor, N.S. says this year has been extremely busy for the scrapbooking industry.

"People are at home and looking for something to do, so those who haven’t crafted in a while are starting up again, as well as people starting up for the first time," she says.

Scrapbookers, she says, have been using their spare time to catch up on past projects and are also scrapbooking their memories from during COVID-19.

"There have been a few paper lines released with a COVID-19 theme and they sell out quickly," she adds.

Besides scrapbooking, cardmaking has become extremely popular during the past few months, says Hilchey-Wilson. Many are making “thinking about you” cards and sending them to family and friends.

John Boylan, a public services archivist with the Public Archives and Records Office of Prince Edward Island, says photographs have always reflected two things: what we value, and what we want people to think of us.

Boylan believes that during COVID-19, people aren’t taking fewer pictures - they are just taking different ones.

"My social media feeds have fewer parties and a lot more home-baked bread," he says.

Boylan sometimes wonders if future researchers will understand what they're seeing in today's photographs. Will people know that the picture of an empty street reflects a pandemic lock-down? As always, he says, the photographs we leave behind will tell people what we thought was important.

“The question is whether they'll answer questions we haven't even thought of,” says Boylan.

Photographs all come down to mindset, says Short. She certainly won’t look back on these photos in the future and think about what she didn’t have or couldn’t do.

“I’ll remember the laughs, and the fun we had together, and how I feel so grateful to have such great friends, and how we're closer than ever.”

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