Play Hard

Memory maker Sarah Johnson is capturing doorstep portraits of families in lockdown…

...and we just can't get enough of them. With 50% of profits going to NHS key workers, we spoke to Sarah to find out more about the project.

Written by High Life North
Published 05.06.2020

By Laura Kingston

Can you tell us about this project and how it has come about?

During lockdown I was trying to find ways I could do something to make a difference to others. I didn’t know what, but I knew I had to do something. I’ve run a few free photography challenges and relaunched some of my mobile phone photography courses and the feedback from my students was just incredible. The feedback was that they found getting out with their cameras the tonic that they needed to help take away anxiety and get out the lockdown madness for a little bit. I knew it was what I needed to do for my own sanity too, so after filling my daily exercise walks with taking lots of nature photography I decided that as lockdown was lifted a little and we could get out more I needed to do more with my camera. I had seen lots of photographers in the South doing charity sessions and only a couple in the North East so I decided to ask my following if it would be something that they would like and the response was fantastic.

What is the charity link?

I studied nursing at Leeds University many moons ago but left the profession and moved into recruitment before starting my own business. Seeing so many key workers putting themselves on the front line to help to keep us all safe, there was no question what I was going to raise the money for as a thank you to all of the key workers that have continued to do all that they have to keep us all safe over this awful time of lockdown. I have donated 50% of my profits each week to my Just Giving page and will continue to do so on the session until Sunday 7 June- so far I have raised £200 and I am excited to see what the final total will be at the end of this week.

What are families using their photos for? Has anyone had any creative ideas?

Families have been using the images to send to other members of their family that they haven’t been able to see, capturing their lockdown moments. I have captured photographs of children sitting on their potties as they have learnt this over lockdown, lockdown babies that have been born and some parents pretending to be drinking glasses of gin which was really funny.

What is the process?

Doorstep portraits will continue to be a service I am providing as so many families are still at home and I will be introducing a new package for business owners that have pivoted their business to now work from home for the foreseeable future with location sessions in their gardens maintaining social distancing guidelines. 


What sort of photography do you normally do?

I’m a family, pet and events photographer in County Durham. I work mainly across the North East. 

How did you get into photography?

I have always enjoyed my photography and each holiday we enjoyed, my camera came with me. I used to drive my husband bonkers with “stand here”, “look that way”, “move over there”…poor bloke – I can be bossy! But it was my passion. There is no better feeling than looking at a photograph and remembering the moment you were there. You can remember the view, the sounds, the smells, the emotion…just with one picture. I capture memories – Sarah Johnson the memory maker has a nice ring to it. 

When my customers look at a framed picture or canvas that I have taken, I want them to remember the moment. I want that capture to sum up their family, dogs, event or situation for exactly what it was and they will be able the relive that feeling every time they look at it. 

How can we get in touch?

Find out more about the work that I do, or book a charity doorstep portrait, via my website, Instagram or Facebook

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