They’re a little different from the studio or hospital settings she usually works in…
But the doorsteps providing the backdrop for Netherton photographer Gemma Bashford at the moment are helping families to capture precious memories during lockdown – and offer more positive ones for herself.
“It’s rare that we are aware of living through a moment of history, so it’s nice to be able to offer someone a lovely photo that they can look back on,” says Gemma. “But going out is helping me to focus on other people’s happiness rather than dwell on my own fears too.
“I’m 26 weeks pregnant and because I was conscious of trying to protect me and my unborn baby I became frightened of going out at all, even to get fresh air, and it was affecting my mental health.
“Going out once a week to take the photos is giving me a new focus and doing something nice for others as well, that hopefully they’ll appreciate.”
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Gemma, 34, has been working as a photographer for 14 years. She was a co-founder of Expressions Photo and Design Studio in Liverpool with her best friend Emma, before setting up her own children’s business, Mamma Bear Memories, when having their own families made it difficult for them to run the business together.
She is also a medical photographer at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
“The two are very different,” says Gemma who, with partner Alan, already has a three-year-old daughter, Hallie.
“As a medical photographer I take photos of children’s conditions to aid treatment and so that consultants can chart their progress.
“It can be especially helpful for those having plastic surgery, or to see before and after operations, and it can mean that, with burns for instance, photos can be taken each time a wound is redressed so that the dressings don’t have to be removed unnecessarily to check them.
“I take images where there are safeguarding issues too, so it can be difficult – but really rewarding,” she adds.
“And I do also love capturing memories and taking children’s and family photos; I love nothing more than a sleepy newborn, or chasing around a cheeky toddler.
“My little girl inspires my creativity to take photographs of memories and times we will never have again. And lockdown is one of those times.”
Gemma is going out once a week – using her daily exercise allowance and always following social distancing guidelines – to take photos around the area she lives, posting a notice to say where she’ll be next on her Mamma Bears Memories Facebook page and asking people to private message her if they’d like a photo taking.
“Some people want family pictures, others just want their children,” Gemma says. “For some with newborns they haven’t had the chance to have photos done, so it’s nice to be able to take them for them – and capture that moment before it’s lost.
“I put the photos on my Facebook page and people are free to take them and, if they wish, they can make a donation to help the NHS. I have set up JustGiving pages for both Aintree and Alder Hey Hospitals (see here) so they can choose who they’d like to donate to, but it’s not compulsory. I’m just happy to do this.
“Everybody I have come across is so cheerful and lovely, which makes it a great experience for me, and helps me.”
She adds: “It’s even better to capture special memories for people at this very usual time.”
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