An Aldergrove photographer and essential worker is going the distance to capture families from a distance during the COVID-19 crisis.
Shaylin Thulin is a full-time cashier at a Murrayville grocery store. But this week, during the times she wasn’t on shift, she was perched on the lawn or sidewalk of homes taking pertinent portraits of the people who live in them.
“I never saw it coming,” Thulin, also a professional photographer, said about the changes that swept over Langley soon after the World Health Organization announced the pandemic.
“It’s a new normal,” she said about an era where face masks are commonplace, toilet paper is in short supply, screens are up in front of grocery store clerks, and going out to eat with friends is forbidden.
The first family Aldergrove photographer Shaylin Thulin captured on the doorstep was the Worralls.
Aldergrove mother Kristyna Worrall and her two children, Luke and Rilynn, posed cheekily beside packages of toilet paper and Lysol wipes in their pyjamas.
“When I pulled up to the house, they had the packages of toilet paper outside. It made me laugh,” the photographer said.
She stood back from the lawn to capture the charming moment.
“I’m really enjoying spending the time with my kids,” Worrall later told the Aldergrove Star about her time social distancing at home.
“I normally work quite a bit so the chance to stop and enjoy their childhood is really a blessing in disguise,” mom said about her time with family in self-isolation.
“And my son just thinks it’s great to have me home all day instead of being at daycare,” she related.
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Thulin said it takes anywhere from two to five minutes to take the encapsulating portrait.
For the Worrall household – it was a snapshot of mom holding her smiling boy upside down.
Another Aldergrove family, the Titus clan, was huddled in front of their rancher-style home metres behind their grandparents who inhabit another house on the property.
The older generation kept their distance, and grandpa wore a mask while mowing the lawn. So did grandma while she enjoyed the spring sun.
“They’re both at high risk” of serious complications if they contract the virus, Jocelyn told the Aldergrove Star.
“So I’ve banned them from grocery shopping,” she said, noting that during the outbreak the two households who once made daily visits, now only see each other from afar.
Thulin said taking their family’s portrait during such a time was endearing because “grandpa helped [his daughter] with her lawn.”
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Thulin, herself, is also aiming to stay a safe distance from her parents during the pandemic, who live upstairs from her.
“Me and my sister are both working outside of home,” she explained.
“Even wearing gloves – there’s always that risk.”
Thulin says the doorstep photography project is her way of “adding something positive” to a long list of negatives that have come as a result of the pandemic.
Portraits of positivity
Thulin hopes that when others in the community see the portraits, particularly of families’ resilience during a public health crisis, that the images can serve as a source of hope.
“There’s so much negativity going on right now,” she mourned.
A growing number of Canadian photographers have been making similar house calls – taking free portraits in exchange for quality time capturing those from the comfort of their homes.
Aldergrove’s Dana Begg wore a Township of Langley fire department ball cap during her family’s photo-op to show her support for first responders on the frontline of the crisis.
Begg’s two sons, husband, and dog used their session to recreate a beloved family photo from 2010.
Thulin said what’s surprised her the most about what she’s dubbed the “Doorstep Community Project” is that everyone she meets is still so positive and happy.
“Everyone seems to be making the best out of a bad situation,” she said. “They’ve all been so inviting.”
Interest in the one-week-old project has grown rapidly, she said.
Thulin’s even had families from Abbotsford and Langley City reach out to her about participating.
Those interested in taking part in the community project can email firstname.lastname@example.org and schedule a day and time for their photo session.