By Deb Malewski

Contributing Writer

— Candy Robbins of Bellevue considers photography her therapy. With the current situation around us — with social isolation, masks and six-foot distancing from other people — photography has provided her with a welcome escape from the realities of the COVID-19 virus. On April 4, Robbins offered to take “porch portraits” of those most involved firsthand in dealing with the virus. The offer was advertised through her Facebook page.

Robbins’ business is Bellevue Events and Sports Photography. She takes photos of local events and sports teams as a volunteer. Her photography skills are self-taught, and she hesitates to call herself a “photographer.”

“I’m just someone who loves to take pictures,” she said. “Everything I know I taught myself by reading photography books or watching YouTube videos and, of course, by going out and trying.”

Robbins is well known to Bellevue sports fans.

“All of us in the Bellevue sports family really appreciate all that Candy Marie does, including taking lots of great photos and going to tons of the Bronco events all year long,” said Cindy Gaedert-Gearhart. “We are so thankful to her for capturing so many special moments for us.”

Robbins said her recent “porch portraits” are impactful photos of those who are on the front lines dealing with the pandemic, taken on their front porch, Robbins explained. This includes first responders, police and the health care workers who deal with this on a daily basis. Her inspiration for this project was a photo of a World War II family, minus the father who was off to war.

Under current social distancing orders, her porch portraits were taken from afar, using a telephoto lens. She encouraged her subjects to dress in their work gear and include props if desired.

“I figure what’s going on with us right now is something we, too, will never forget. To have a snapshot of it, of their entire family at this time, will be something to look back on and talk about years from now.”

“It will serve as a memento of this unimaginable year, 2020, that we have had and hope to never experience again in our lifetime.”

She said because social distancing in so important, the photos are being shot from the road.

“I told them they could stand on the porch and I’d snap the picture from the road. I jokingly called them porch portraits. It was catchy.”

Done in both black and white and color, the photos depict the emotion the subjects and their families are dealing with —including exhaustion, emotion and professionalism. Nurses were geared up outside the emergency rooms doors. A police officer, masked and gloved, stands outside his home, only his eyes revealing the stress of his job.

But it wasn’t all serious matters. Robbins encouraged families get creative.

“Dress them up any way you want,” Robbins stated in her instructions. “If you want to be a real Quarantine Queen and have your pajama pants on and hair in a sloppy bun and all your kids wearing PJs with spaghetti sauce on their faces, that’s fine.”

Robbins has plans of doing more porch portraits featuring the 2020 Bellevue High School graduates with their families next, along with more first responders’ shots.

Her photos can be seen on her Facebook page under “Bellevue Sports and Event Photography by Candy Marie.”