Calgary Families in Isolation During COVID-19


Co-curated by Neil Zeller and Glenbow

This exhibition of 55 photographs, taken by local photographer Neil Zeller during the pandemic lockdown, is a selection from the more than 650 families he photographed. The images reflect the diversity of lived experience in Calgary during this time, showing our resilience and the importance of family and friendship to get us through turbulent times.

When Calgary went into pandemic lockdown in March 2020, so many small business owners and artists got hit hard and fast. What started as an idea to make some money to support our collapsed photography company turned into a much more valuable project – we were suddenly providing joy during a time of uncertainty and great need.

As the weeks passed, the response was incredible, and I was booked solid – I visited over 650 families in all areas of Calgary, doing between 10-25 photoshoots each day. My porchraits project brought people a moment of relief and fun, giving each family something to look forward to beyond their day-to-day lockdown. The porchrait sessions highlighted what we were all recognizing during that time – that our strength comes from those we love. My goal for the porchrait sessions was to provide a 100% positive experience. I’d arrive and set up my camera on the sidewalk or a few metres from the home, and family members would arrange themselves. Between weather, pets, babies and other family dynamics, I experienced amazing highs and emotional lows alongside my porchraits families, and I will be grateful to all of them, forever. While we can’t fit all the porchraits on the wall, this show is a love letter back to each and every one of the families for supporting me in a great time of need! – Neil Zeller

Neil Zeller photographed 650 families of all descriptions in all corners of the city. This map shows all his bookings. Porchrait sessions took place rain (or wind, snow, hail, flood, blizzard, tornado) …or shine, and the results capture the creativity and camaraderie of Calgarians.

Global News, March 24, 2020 Alberta photographers bring ‘porch portraits’ to residents in self-isolation

660 News CityNews Calgary, March 26, 2020 Photographer capturing family moments with a ‘porchtrait’ all while keeping his distance

CBC, March 27, 2020 ‘Porchraits:’ Calgary photographer capturing family moments during COVID-19

Calgary Herald, April15, 2020 Calgary’s Kindness: How Calgarians are helping each other during COVID-19 pandemic 

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