Meet the Kingston photographer capturing the lighter side of the quarantine

One Kingston resident has been working to show the lighter side of the coronavirus outbreak, by taking “quarantine portraits” of families as they isolate themselves in order to curb the spread of the virus.

It’s not that photographer Rachael Cates has a wanton disregard for her own safety as she buzzes around Kitsap County, taking photos of families during a time when most people are doing everything in their power to shut themselves off from the outside world, quite the opposite in fact.

“I had a kidney transplant over the summer, so I am immunosuppressed, so I’ve actually been on a personal lockdown for much longer than everybody else,” Cates said.

When she first saw quarantine photos being shared by Boston photographers Cara Soulia and Kristen Collins, as part of the Front Steps Project, Cates saw a golden opportunity to connect with her community, while still keeping a safe distance.

“When I saw this project online, I thought ‘this is perfect, I can stay in my car, be safe, I can stand a good distance away from people using the right lenses,’” Cates said. “I have not stopped grinning for the last three days.”

The way it works is: families contact Cates through her website (rachaelcates.photography) to book a portrait session; Cates then schedules a time to go to the family’s home; let’s them know when she’s nearby; and when she pulls up in her car, everyone is usually already in place in front of their house, ready to say “cheese.”

Cates isn’t the only one coming away from her photo sessions with a smile.

“People keep sending me messages thanking me for giving them a moment of happiness throughout all of the anxiety,” she said. “It’s definitely motivating me to try to do as many more as possible.”

As for compensation, Cates said she doesn’t want to see a single red cent from her quarantine portraits, in fact over the past several days she has incurred some significant fuel expenses as she drives around to each family’s home; leaving the cynic to wonder what on earth is she looking to get out of this?

“I’m somebody who serves others, I love to help my friends when they’re in need,” Cates said. “This is a really difficult time for me to be trapped, I can’t babysit my friends’ kids, I can’t run groceries to them, I can’t be there for them.”

“This, for me is a way to be able to help others be happy, even though it’s kind of a tough time,” she added. “That’s all I need out of it.”

The Carillo family, Max, Amalia, Claire, Juliet’s, Cami, and Jorge.

The Carillo family, Max, Amalia, Claire, Juliet’s, Cami, and Jorge.

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