They are the faces and the families of Banff, captured through the lens of longtime photographer Malcolm Carmichael with his porch photo project. The images offer a remarkable and moving glimpse into the lives of families living through the pandemic in the small tight-knit community.
One photo captures the play-fighting antics of two teenaged siblings, clearly tired of being cooped up together. Another image illustrates the unconditional love between a little girl and her dog. In another photo, baby Theodore Oostevich is cradled in the arms of his parents, Shane Nizinkevich and Andrew Oosting.
“You see the uniqueness and diversity around Banff,” Nizinkevich says. “We’re a unique family but we’re no different than any other family and so that was also really special.”
“It was a way for us to share our new little family unit,” he says, adding that it was the perfect opportunity to introduce their newest addition to the community while also sharing the story behind baby Theodore’s last name.
They wanted to combine their last names, Nizinkevich explains, and the couple decided on Oostevich.
“Here’s something to celebrate in this insane, scary uncertain time.”
Many families, like the Huerlimann's pictured here, included their beloved pets in their portrait shoots.
The owner of Alpine Peak Photography, Carmichael freely gave of his time and talent to the project. His only request – that his subjects donate to a charity close to their hearts.
Many chose to support Covenant Health’s Mineral Springs Hospital.
Nizinkevich, a music teacher at the local high school, says their decision to give to the local hospital was a “no-brainer”.
“The health system is really important for us, especially as new parents,” he says. “Of course we’ll support our local hospital. They are going to be the ones that help us through this crazy journey. They’ve helped us through COVID and now as our family moving forward they’re helping us to stay healthy.”
“We’re so fortunate in a small town that we have these big city services,” he adds. “All of our lab testing comes out of the hospital and we needed a lot of testing for our process to become a family.”
“That was all done and all possible because the hospital was here. It was done quickly, it was done professionally and it was done with caring and kindness.”
With more than 100 families jumping at the chance for a professional portrait, Carmichael spent many hours behind the camera and back at the studio editing his work.
Shane Nizinkevich (right) and his husband, Andrew Oosting (left) pictured with their son, Theodore Oostevich.
“We didn’t want to accept anything,” he stresses, adding how the hospital also has a special place in his heart. It’s been there for his family in times of need – from the birth of his three daughters to the mishaps and accidents that come with being a busy and athletic household.
“We’ve been in and out of emergency more times than a family probably should be,” Carmichael says with a wry chuckle.
During a time of isolation and uncertainty for communities everywhere, the porch photo project has come to be an emblem of strength and togetherness for residents in Banff.
“I think the porch photos is going to be remembered as something that got us all through the darker days,” Carmichael says.
“That idea of small acts of kindness. Many small things can build up into a big thing and I think that’s something that we can almost use as a metaphor during this time in COVID,” Nizinkevich adds. “Through those small acts you’re paying it forward and all those small donations add up to one large donation. “
“Sometimes we need to step back and think those small things do matter.”
Banff’s Mineral Springs Hospital provides 24-hour emergency care for patients suffering cardiac events, sports-related injuries and other major trauma. The hospital also acts as a rural learning centre for residents in emergency medicine and nursing as well as students training to become paramedics. The hospital’s continuing care wing, St. Martha’s Place, provides a range of recreational and therapeutic supports to residents and families. Please consider a gift today to support Banff Mineral Springs Hospital.
Written by: Laura Ehrkamp