Making the most of lockdown

This is the story of one photographer who never imagined she would find lockdown so rewarding, while raising money for a local maternity ward.

Making the most of lockdown

This is the story of one photographer who never imagined she would find lockdown so rewarding, while raising money for a local maternity ward.

It’s been a busy few months for photographer Melanie Armstrong. Despite temporarily closing down her business during the government imposed lockdown, she continued taking pictures, and all in the name of raising money for the maternity unit at her local NHS hospital in Edinburgh.

Melanie specialises in taking photos of babies, toddlers and their families, and is a co-founder of the franchise Photography For Little People. So while the front door of her studio remained firmly locked, she went out and about to capture images.

Melanie takes up the story: “It all started because my son was missing his friends at nursery. I began contacting other families whose children were at the same nursery, so we could make contact via Zoom.

“I got to know lots of families with babies, including newborns, and discovered they were facing so many different challenges because of this COVID-19 lockdown.  As a photographer of new born babies, I thought ‘why not capture their family moments to try and cheer them up’.

“So I started taking family photos on their own doorsteps – while obviously keeping a safe social distance. I asked them if they would be able to donate to my fundraising project for the maternity unit, and I have been overwhelmed by the huge support from local families since. I raised £1,000 in just over a month, with all proceeds going to the Edinburgh maternity ward.”

On her travels, Melanie has learned so much about families and their struggles, more than she could ever have imagined: “So many sweet and sometimes sad family stories have been shared. I feel privileged that I managed to capture those memories for these families.

“One family had a baby girl who was born 18 weeks premature, and there was a mum who was suffering from a brain tumour, and I was able to take their first family portraits. I experienced so many positive and poignant moments during the pandemic, more than I could ever believe. It’s why I love being a photographer.”

Melanie has specialised in newborn babies for 15 years and after three months under lockdown, re-opened her business in the middle of June. Together with her mother, Jan Massey, they founded Photography for Little People which became a franchise in 2008. However, the emergence of the deadly Covid-19 virus did create a few challenges for Melanie, who said: “During lockdown we have worked with our franchisees to guide them through the pandemic, so they can move forward when the government advises us it is safe to do so.”

But she has no regrets about choosing a career in photography: “My studio is my passion and I love every minute with my clients. I have had families in the studio that have had their babies during lockdown and their stories are incredible. We have followed the strict government guidelines and have used personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep these families, and especially the babies, safe. 

“I feel blessed, but guilty at the same time, that I have held some of these babies before their grandparents. It’s been emotional and, at times, expensive but I am proud that I have been able to work with these precious lockdown babies to create beautiful memories for their families to treasure forever.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andy Swales
Andy Swales
RELATED ARTICLES