This project initially started off as a dream and a desire to create some happy tangible memories for the community. Long into the lock down, everything was moving online and going digital. Even Christmas and the holidays were going digital. It didn’t feel the same. At a time when we could all use some extra joy and happiness, we were all stuck meeting each other behind screens.
I thought of my grandma, who isn’t very tech-savvy, and had felt left behind. It made me realize there must have been many others like her. So I wanted to give her and many families in our neighbourhood physical photos they can enjoy. There is something uniquely special about holding a paper photo in your hands than looking at a photo on the screen.
Social distancing rules banned large gatherings but it also meant no gatherings to take photos or even meeting Santa Clause in person. In working with the restrictions, the initial idea was to create a Christmas themed photo booth outside with a beautifully decorated festive background complete with a cardboard cut-out of Santa. A friend and I would set this up around different areas of the community and help take photos for people in the neighbourhood and print out the photos on the spot, all while social distancing.
We were getting ready to make it happen, but then the pandemic got even worst. Further restrictions meant our initial idea wasn’t going to work. We had to adapt. Our initial grant had been approved, and we still wanted to help create physical photo memories for people.
After much deliberation, an alternative plan was created to try to come close to our initial goals as best we could. We would use our photoshopping skills to help digitally put people together and into locations they wish they could visit together.
We had people send in their photos, and tell us where they would like to “virtually travel to”. We would combine the different photos together and photoshop them into their dream travel destination. We had put multiple family members, children, couples, and loved ones together into the same photos. This also helped people that were unable to be with their loved ones in person and didn’t have a photo together. These people together “travelled” to all different parts of the world, from Hawaii, Disneyland, Paris, Australia, and to many many other places around the world. For the images, we digitally retouched and tried to matched colour, lighting, scale, and perspectives to make it all as realistic as possible. We then printed the photos and mailed them out. And while around Valentines Day, we even sent out the prints in pink coloured envelopes to add an extra touch of love. It was like receiving a postcard from a recent trip.

Overall this alternative plan worked out fairly well. We mailed out a lot of photos and people were very happy to receive their photos. While the project took unexpected turns, I’m happy we were able to help create some smiles and lasting positive memories.
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