Local photographers capture the moment—and raise money for good causes 

Pembertonian Chad Chomlack and Whistlerite Rachel Lewis spent the week shooting portraits from a distance

click to enlarge Pemberton photographer Chad Chomlack is shooting "Porch-Raits" to raise money for the Pemberton Food Bank. - PHOTO BY CHAD CHOMLACK
  • Photo by Chad Chomlack
  • Pemberton photographer Chad Chomlack is shooting "Porch-Raits" to raise money for the Pemberton Food Bank.

Chad Chomlack isn’t a family or portrait photographer.

Rather, the Pembertonian is best known for his action sports photography—even winning the Deep Winter photo challenge in 2016.

So, when he heard that some U.S. photographers were shooting “porch sessions” of people from a requisite six-metre distance during the COVID-19 pandemic, he wasn’t immediately drawn to the idea.

“I saw it as a ploy for photographers to make some extra money and do some good at the same time,” he says.

But then his friend and Revelstoke counterpart Zoya Lynch (2014’s Deep Winter winner, it should be mentioned) called him up. “She started to do these [portraits] and her motivation was like, ‘Hey, we’re living in a time right now that I don’t want to forget,’” he recalls.

That point resonated with him.

“I don’t want this time to pass by without documenting the truth of what’s going on,” Chomlack says. “I felt like framing it through the portraits is a great way to get into people’s lives and see a little window of what’s going on.”

And so, earlier this week, he launched his “Porch-Raits” project. Pembertonians contacted him through Instagram to make a minimum donation of $25 to the Pemberton Food Bank in exchange for a photo outside their home.

“I’d roll up in my truck and then I’d have their cell number and they’d either come to the window or their front entrance,” he says. “It takes about five or 10 minutes. I’d pretty much shoot from my truck, but for a few I’d walk within 10 or 15 feet.”

Last Monday, March 30, he snapped 26 in one day, and, in total, raised well over $1,000 in donations.

“In 10 years we could look back on this time and go, ‘I wish I would’ve captured more and found a way to do that,’” he says. “I think as a photographer, personally, it’s our responsibility to create art in times like this—and not as self-promotion or whatever. Take this time to observe and capture and watch and learn and listen and communicate.”

In Whistler, Rachel Lewis—who might be best known for her musical talents, but is also a family, portrait, and wedding photographer—was attracted to the idea of contributing to the community during this tumultuous time.

Not only does she live across the street from the Whistler Health Care Centre, but her mom is also a nurse.

“I’ve had a few families reach out to me to ask for family pictures when it’s all over, so I figured it was something a lot of families would be interested in receiving,” she says. “And I thought, ‘How can I contribute to the COVID-19 craziness in Whistler?”

During her husband’s work-from-home lunch break, she’s been handing over baby duties and heading out to snap photos with donations for the Whistler Health Care Foundation. Her title: ISOlove, a play on a camera setting and the word isolation.

click to enlarge Whistler photographer Rachel Lewis' photo project is called ISOlove. She's raising money for the Whistler Health Care Foundation. - PHOTO BY RACHEL LEWIS
  • Photo by Rachel Lewis
  • Whistler photographer Rachel Lewis' photo project is called ISOlove. She's raising money for the Whistler Health Care Foundation.

“At the end of the first day it raised $450,” she says. “I’m hoping to keep that up.”

Seeing families she knows—albeit from a distance—for a few minutes has been a side perk of the project.

“I’ve been here 13 years,” Lewis says. “Usually when I see these people we give hugs. One of the families I photographed yesterday, they had a baby gift for me and they were like, ‘I was meaning to give this to you for a while! I’ll leave it on the porch and you can grab it afterwards.’”

“It will end one day, but everything we do right now can help that day be sooner.”

To contact Rachel Lewis in Whistler visit rachellewislenswork.com. To contact Chad Chomlack in Pemberton check out www.instagram.com/chadchomlack.

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