Taking Candid Care Home Photography in a Pandemic

Picture of a bedroom in a residential home

Recently, I worked on a big commission that was both emotionally and creatively challenging for a National Care Home. The brief would have been straightforward, had we not been in a pandemic. However, I love a challenging project, the bigger the better! And, with such a human angle this one was very close to my heart. Thankfully, with a little planning, and a lot of natural light, I was able to create some powerful photography that really conveyed a human story during these difficult times.

The Client: A nationwide care home chain.

I was approached by the leadership team of a well-known care home chain with homes all over the UK. They needed to revamp their website and brochures to reflect the changes the last year had brought to their care homes, and the industry in general.

This was more than a corporate rebranding exercise; calling for imagery that captured a powerful story and would show people the outstanding levels of care their amazing staff provide, day in, day out, for residents.

It goes without saying that this client, like everyone else in the care industry, had seen the sharp end of Covid. Yet their staff had gone to incredible lengths to protect, inspire, and care for people in tough times.

In normal circumstances, for this kind of project, I would tour the locations and find opportunities to capture plenty of candid shots as staff, residents and visiting family went about their day. Of course, circumstances are far from normal at present and the covid restrictions meant it was vital I kept my distance from staff and residents, to keep everyone safe.

However, and I’ve found this to be true many times over the years, throw in a bit of lateral thinking, and there’s always a way to get the shots a client needs.

The Simply C solution.

Despite the restrictions, it was obvious that there were things working in my favour…

I’m a big believer in using natural light to bring an image to life and add the right emotional touches to my photography. I was humbled by how picturesque many of the homes are; a photographer’s dream! Large, open, beautiful buildings, and day rooms where big windows let in plenty of natural light.

I also had the opportunity to chat to many of the staff, and hear their unique, and often humbling, stories. I’m a people person at heart and, as a photographer, it’s amazing how those stories can feed into my research and help me find ways to build narratives into my photography.

The biggest issue from a composition point of view was the lack of available human faces. For reasons of privacy and safety, I couldn’t get close to residents, and their faces couldn’t appear on the sales literature. Meanwhile, staff would be hidden behind their PPE.

However, despite my usual toolkit being limited, I knew there was a way to capture the respect, dignity and genuine care staff provided for their residents. When done effectively, candid photography has the power to say a great deal, using very little.

Thankfully, because of my background in interior design, I was also able to see the potential for bringing out the best in an environment, a beautiful vase of flowers, arranging the furniture and soft furnishings for the perfect composition. The little touches and details to enhance the story. Then, once I had the right natural light, I simply waited for those telling moments and small details that can imply so much. A walking stick next to a table, a nurse kneeling by a patient’s chair, the way her hand rests on his shoulder, a gentle touching of hands, these natural gestures said a lot about what care meant here.

An emotional victory.

When I was editing my photography for the client, I found myself getting emotional over some of the images. I felt privileged to have been let into this private place, where people had risen to incredible challenges.

I realised there was a lot of love in each care home, and that is what my pictures brought to life. I think I captured a sense of hope for the future too, and of how dedicated and passionate the staff were about their jobs. And I’m pleased to say the client is over the moon with the pictures.

It was a truly humbling experience, and one I won’t forget for a long time.

Ready to bring your brand photography into line with your post-covid plans? Call Cherry on 07775 851827

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