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Near the end of June, something special happens. Intertwining with normal routines, it is suddenly normal to see gaggles of girls in beautiful, floor-length gowns walking around their community. Standing shoulder to shoulder with their dates or friends, they flock to parks and waterfront views to have their photos taken by proud parents.
This June, because of COVID-19, that won’t happen. There may be single flashes of red or pink dresses as quarantined families take photos, but there will be no loud, laughing groups embracing one another.
Liam Hennessey of Applehead Studio Photography doesn’t want those photos to be absent from this graduating classes’ photo albums.
“We created a way to bring everyone together so when they look back on their photos it is not going to look any different than anyone else’s photos,” says Hennessey. “It is going to look like they were together with their friends, exactly as they should be.”
The Halifax studio is offering a prom package where groups can join them at Oceanstone Seaside Resort in Indian Harbour, N.S., to be photographed. Oceanstone has that Maritime feel, says Hennessey, making it the perfect backdrop.
Photography trends are always evolving, but Hennessey says the classic group shot just can’t be forgotten.
“We do it at every event,” he says. “There is literally time set aside to capture portraits standing together looking at the camera.”
In May, Applehead did a trial run with eight students and their families. Upon arriving at the resort, each family was numbered and directed to a painted circle to stand in, or as Hennessey calls them, “big fun family pods.” Then, like an assembly line, they moved along, all while keeping their distance. With two different photos planned, the first one was the group shot.
“We really just made it lighthearted. The other kids were in the vicinity, so we could all really communicate together,” says Hennessey. “We would say things like ‘OK, put your arm around nobody beside you’ and then they would just laugh, and it was the perfect expression.”
Before the shoot, the team knows exactly where each graduate will stand, so later, they can photoshop them all together. The end result is a near seamless group photo.
“For these kids now, with this shot we have created, they will look back in ten years and hopefully the first thing that they think of won’t be COVID,” says Hennessey.
“For us, we are really proud that we came up with a way to create something that cannot happen right now. It’s the next best thing to being next to your best friends.”
Making it special
Hannah Moore, of Hannah A. Moore Photography, found herself thinking about grads during this pandemic because she remembers the last time Nova Scotia seniors had a difficult final year of high school.
“I was friends with a lot of older people and, when the teacher union strike happened a few years ago, it ruined their grad year,” said Moore. “I am also friends with a lot of the people this year and they just all said how much it sucked.”
From Digby, N.S., but now living in Halifax, Moore is offering to travel to meet clientele and shoot prom photos at a distance. Since she travels often for work, she says finding places to shoot won’t be that hard. She also considers herself pretty adaptable, as she often practices taking photos in weird locations with friends.
During the shoots, she plans to wear a mask and keep her distance. As for her subjects, she says many of the interested people who have reached out to her are already quarantining with their dates, meaning they can be as close as they want.
It won’t be the same as when she went to prom, but she still wanted to give them their own memorable moment.
“It was special when I had prom because I went with my friend and it was nice to be able to dress up,” says Moore. “I wanted to do something that will make them feel good.”
Work worth it
Irma Tremblay of Alberton, P.E.I., attended her prom 13 years ago. The pictures are still up around her home.
“I love prom photos,” says the owner of ILT Photography. “As much as they don’t get their prom this year, or not like a regular prom, they still should be able to have pictures in their tuxes and in their gowns with their families and with their friends.”
Tremblay has three different packages to choose from. The first two are shorter sessions that would be sufficient for individuals, couples, and family portraits. The third is a group package that lasts two to three hours, giving Tremblay plenty of time to get all the shots she wants.
For any group photos, she plans on editing the students together in a way similar to Applehead Studio - the students just have to agree on a location.
“I can only have 10-15 people, so we are definitely going to have to coordinate,” says Tremblay. “I know there are going to be hiccups because we are all still getting used to [distancing], but there will be a lot of conversation going on beforehand.”
Conversations prior to the shoot will help Tremblay to craft a solid plan so the session runs smoothly. When managing groups, she knows sometimes it can be difficult with everyone talking. Yet because she has a loud voice, she has no fear she can get her image across.
For Tremblay, any extra work that a physically distanced photoshoot will require will be worth it because the students “still deserve that special moment of having photos captured.”