Ely photographer’s ‘dortraits’ raise thousands for EACH

The Jepsoa Family dortrait

Carolyne Downham, 44, from Ely, has so far raised £1,425 for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) after restarting her photography business and capturing families during lockdown.

The business, Carolyne Burton Photography, usually specialises in maternity and newborn sessions. Carolyne is not only a photographer, but also a trained birth and postnatal doula, who is employed to provide guidance and support to pregnant women during labour.

She started capturing families on their doorsteps to represent this time in families’ lives when everyone is at home together tackling their way through lockdown.

Carolyne said: “Having been on lockdown for a number of weeks, all at home together, I started to wonder what I could do, if anything, to help.

“Having recently trained to become a doula I was disappointed I couldn’t really offer any assistance to birthing or even new mothers due to the restrictions.”

Carolyne noticed during lockdown how some photographers had started snapping families on their doorsteps for portraits but noticed nobody in her area was doing this, so she decided to travel around her local area on a bicycle, offering the opportunity.

“I wanted to capture this moment in time when everybody was literally at home with their families. It was about giving people a reason to dress up and lifting spirits”, she said, “as well as documenting an unprecedented period of enforced confinement.

“How many people have a family photograph, especially with teenagers? For some families, this is one of the only pictures they have together.”

Chatting on the doorstep at a distance had also been good for her physical and mental health, she said: “It has definitely lifted my spirits, going from house to house and meeting so many families has been lovely. On occasions it meant a string of bookings, literally cycling around from door to door for a whole day, I’ve met so many new neighbours, some familiar faces and meeting lots of new ones too. Chatting with them about how life is going amid the pandemic. Every family has had such unique experiences of the situation, many working through it and some now facing some new difficult challenges in life.

“There will likely never be time like this again and I thought what better way to capture it than to cycle around the local area and offer doorstep portraits, and also a way of raising money, too!”

Carolyne received a very positive response to the project. She has taken 85 family portraits so far.

After seeing the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on charities like EACH, Carolyne said: “Ultimately, I wanted to choose a charity that supports families. The doorstep portraits were capturing family units all stuck at home together. I know how much families who have children suffering with life-threatening conditions rely on the hospices for support. I also wanted to support a local charity, so EACH seemed like the perfect one for us all to support.”

Karen Newton, EACH Community Fundraising Manager, said: “It’s great to see the creativity and passion people have discovered during lockdown. We’re ever so grateful to people like Carolyne who saw the opportunity to fundraise in a different way and decided to help EACH during such a challenging and uncertain time for our charity.”

As restrictions ease, Carolyne has said she plans to move away from the family doorstep portrait to capturing family groups outdoors instead, including families meeting up with grandparents and cousins for the first time since lockdown.

Anyone who is interested in booking a family photography session can contact Carolyne by email at carolyneburtonphotography@hotmail.co.uk.

To donate to Carolyne’s JustGiving page visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/carolyne-burton-photography

Image:  The Jepsoa family dortrait


East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) aims to maximise the quality of life for children and young people with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, and to support their families.

East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH)