Jim Barker started his photo business in October 2019. Then the pandemic hit.
“Everything fell off the grid in March,” he tells ABC RNs Life Matters.
So he called on social media and asked if people wanted to do their portraits on their front door.
The resulting series, called Doortraits (“I’m a huge fan of the Portmanteau,” says Barker) consists of dozens of photographs of Sydney siders in front of their homes.
“It was a really good chance for us to take almost everyone’s temperature at this point,” says Barker.
“I think there was a lot of confusion and fear at the time, and the project itself was a great way to use the dipstick and see how people felt around us.”
Not everyone was fine. The series includes many people whose working lives were affected by the pandemic standstills.
Paul, a pilot, lost his job at Qantas. Novak, a musician, had canceled all of his performances. Krissy, a music booker, has been fired from her job.
Family portraits capture the pressures of living together
Barker wanted to include a family portrait on the series, so he reached out to his cousin Karina and husband Will, who lived in Wahroonga on Sydney’s Upper North Shore.
He says they had just started home with their children when the photo was taken and found it difficult.
“I think having three kids under the age of eight was obviously pretty full at first,” says Barker.
“And then it was just a cherry on top to throw in home training.”
On the day the portrait was taken, the youngest broke all the rules of social distancing by greeting Barker with a hug – but the oldest didn’t want to be part of the photo at all.
You can straight See them in the last picture, hidden in the corner, and focus on their coloring.
For families with younger children, the pressures were different. Vyvyan, a mother of two, who works on social media, said Barker’s life hasn’t changed much, other than the increased mental stress and difficulty in finding toilet paper.
The couple, Edmond and Tess, had their second child the week that Australians began self-isolating.
“We’re glad it was the second child we had under these circumstances,” they said to Barker. “It would have been a lot more difficult if it had been our first time.”
Some families had unexpectedly been thrown together by the Australian coronavirus response. Chevy lived with her mother, who could not return to Britain.
The pandemic also kept people apart. Jules had just started seeing her new friend and they had a video chat meeting.
“I’m sure a little more contact would have been nice, but [they are] Make the best of a bad situation, which is always easy to see, “says Barker.
The clothing of the test subjects has a meaning
When Barker was in the middle of the project, he wanted to do something different – so he photographed his girlfriend Kitty in “full burlesque make-up”.
“She made it into the New South Wales state finals for the burlesque dance competition this year,” says Barker.
“Obviously that couldn’t go on because of the restrictions.”
Kitty’s photo is in stark contrast to that of the publicist Lea, who wore a towel on her head and wore a moisturizing face mask and a tracksuit.
“She knew exactly what she was going to wear before she even stepped in front of the camera,” says Barker.
“So she gets around 100 percent around the house.”
In the meantime, colleague Yaya posed with her hat for her portrait – simply because she was no longer allowed to wear it as often as she used to.
Funds raised for Lifeline
According to Barker, the project wasn’t just about taking photos, it was also about reaching out to people, “having a chat and being open about how we all feel at this time”.
Because of this, a friend put him in touch with Lifeline to turn it into a fundraiser for the ministry.
“Mental health has always been an important part of my life, something I am very passionate about communicating with people. So it was a breeze, ”says Barker.
“In the end, we were able to raise about $ 4,000 or $ 5,000 for Lifeline through a digital exhibition of the work.”
Barker says most people in Sydney are “ready for everything to go back to normal”.
“In a way, people are still nervous and are going to die as best they can,” says the photographer.
“There is always the threat of another shutdown if something goes wrong. And now, just before Christmas, the stakes are increased with every new week. “
It is true that 2020 did not work out as anyone had planned. When he started his business, Barker didn’t expect his first photo exhibition to be in an online gallery.
“I think it worked out pretty well for me,” he says.
“I’ll just run with it.”
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