Through the window pane: San Francisco photographer reinvents family photos amid coronavirus shelter-in-place

Thursday, March 26, 2020
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Didi von Boch, a San Francisco photographer who specializes in family, maternity, and newborn photos, is using the novel coronavirus pandemic to switch up her style by taking family portraits at a social distance, through their windows.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Didi von Boch is a San Francisco photographer. She specializes in fine art family, maternity, and newborn photos, but the novel coronavirus pandemic has inspired her to switch up her style.

"Can you come closer to the window? Okay, nice, nice! Good," Didi shouted to her latest photo subject.

In order to shoot at a safe social distance, Didi started photographing families through their windows.

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This photo shows a UCSF nurse and children standing in front of a San Francisco house amid the novel coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.
Didi von Boch

She started the project a week ago, and has scheduled shoots every day, all for free, during the Bay Area's three week shelter-in-place.

"I hope it reminds you of the times where it was bad, but more about the times when you were never closer with your family at home," Didi said. "With my kids, we've never been closer than right now. It's very tough and challenging, but still very close."

Some of the photos extend beyond the window pane. Didi photographed a UCSF nurse this week outside the family's front door.

"It's a historical picture for sure," said Didi. "I'm so excited about the project and I know it will be part of something big."

Mary Pendleton and her family were Didi's first window photo subjects.

"We're all taking pictures on our iPhones as we go, but there's something about that outside perspective and the beautiful photographic qualities that she puts with it, that really inspires me and really just kind of hits me in the gut, really connects me to the other families," said Pendleton.

Mary equates Didi's images to iconic photos from the Dust Bowl, that documented ordinary people during an extraordinary moment in time.

Florence Owens Thompson was the subject of Dorothea Lange
Florence Owens Thompson was the subject of Dorothea Lange's famous photo Migrant Mother (1936), an iconic image of the Great Depression.
Dorthea Lange

It reminded ABC7 news reporter Kate Larsen, of photos a friend posted, of her friend's grandmother and aunt, with face masks around their necks, during the 1918 Spanish flu in San Francisco.

"You can see joy in the pictures and I think that that's important that we're all still celebrating life even from behind our four walls, so I think she's doing a good job capturing the joy and the struggle and just the humanity that we all share," said Mary.

ABC7's storytelling took an inward turn, as Kate, and her family, posed for Didi from their living room window. A window where they've spent so much time this past week, looking out, and hoping for a healthy path forward.

This image is a family portrait taken outside a home in San Francisco during the novel coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.
This image is a family portrait taken outside a home in San Francisco during the novel coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.
Didi von Boch

Didi hopes to compile her window photos into a book or perhaps a gallery exhibit, once the shelter-in-place lifts.

And like so many freelance workers and artists, she hopes to resume her normal work soon, so she can continue earning a living through her photo business.

You can see more of Didi's work on her Instagram page.

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