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Residents saying “cheese” for charity during pandemic

Editor’s note: The Professional Photographers of Canada issued an advisory on April 9 recommending its members not participate in “Front Porch” sessions at this time.
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Point Edward photographer Mohamed Ramadan records a furry subject during his city-wide portrait project in support of the Inn of the Good Shepherd. Troy Shantz

Editor’s note: The Professional Photographers of Canada issued an advisory on April 9 recommending its members not participate in “Front Porch” sessions at this time.

Cathy Dobson & Troy Shantz

Two local photographers are giving local residents a great reason to spruce up during their long period of isolation.

Lisa Cattran and Mohamed Ramadan don’t know each other but are independently participating in a growing movement in the photography world during this pandemic.

Cattran has joined the Front Steps Project, which encourages everyone to have their photos recorded during these unprecedented times while donating to charity.

Ramadan, who is not part of the Project, came up with a similar idea on his own.

And both chose the Inn of the Good Shepherd as the recipient, with residents giving to it rather than pay them for their photo services.

“I saw this online and thought what a great idea,” said Cattran, who graduated from Lambton College’s digital photography program two years ago and runs her own photography business.

She takes images of folks on their doorsteps using a long lens that allows her to stay a healthy 20 feet away.

“I loved the first call I got,” said Cattran.  It came from Lynda McIntyre and Cameron Junek, who posed on their doorstep in matching plaid pajamas.

Lisa Cattran

Cattran said she appreciated how the couple got into the spirit of the project to capture real life during this time.

Another family followed up their conventional smiling photo with a second one in which they “went crazy and pretended they wanted to kill each other,” said Cattran.

“These are photos meant to document life during this period of isolation.”

In one week, she’s had 18 requests. She asks only for a donation to the Inn in exchange for an electronic version of the photo portrait.

“People are telling me it’s the kick in the butt they needed to make a donation. And they frequently say it’s the highlight of their day or their week,” Cattran said.

“As it’s gone on, I’ve realized that I am getting as much out of it as the people do.”

To book a five-minute photo session with Lisa Cattran, email her at [email protected].

Point Edward photographer Mohamed Ramadan, 33, is also snapping family portraits as he raises money for the Inn.

Ramadan came up with the idea while photographing his own children through a window as they played on the lawn. His friends loved the idea, and he quickly booked a dozen shoots around town.

He records families on their porch or through the front window, posing them from a distance. He asks for a $10 donation for the Inn.

“People are loving it,” he said. “It’s a novel thing to document a weird time like this. Especially the families.”

Ramadan, who worked as a cook before being laid off due to COVID-19, has been a photographer for 10 years. In his native Lebanon he was a physics teacher.

Life on lockdown is hard for families, but Sarnia’s homeless population has it even harder, he said. The project is ongoing and he plans to make regular donations to the Inn.

“We have a huge homeless population,” he said. “The fact that things are closed all over the place makes their life even harder now. The Library is closed (and) on top of that now the parks are closed.”

Ramadan can be reached at [email protected]

Lynda McIntyre and Cameron Junek got into the spirit of the Front Steps Project by wearing plaid pajamas.Lisa Cattran Photo

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