You've likely seen the porch portraits of families on their doorsteps in self-quarantine all over the internet. Elario Photography is taking photos from the comfort of your own home and all you need is an iPhone.

"A friend of mine was like, 'Hey, you know you can take photos with an iPhone through FaceTime?' So I was like, 'Wow, hang on, let me do a test run with my daughter,' and I did," said JP Elario, owner of Elario Photography.

Usually this time of the year, Elario would be planning a pop-up session outside his Madison Avenue studio in Albany. He sets up a plain backdrop and invites anyone on social media to stop by for a few of his signature black and white snaps, but coronavirus has hindered those plans, along with many weddings and other sessions.

"I was sitting idle for so long and starting to get bored, and losing my mind that this like, gave me life," Elario said. "It's been so nice to see people, connect with people besides my quarantine crew, and create cool, fun pictures."

So Elario is now offering FaceTime portrait sessions: It's a little different than what he's used to doing.

"The hardest challenge for me is letting go of the fact I can't move their camera," Elario said. "What I do is sit on my computer and I FaceTime through the computer, and I'm taking a photo of you with your phone, but I'm telling you where to sit, where to stand, where to find the right light, what looks good. When I take a photo it goes to my computer in my photos folder and then I take it into my editing app and put my finishing touches on it."

Elario says it's been a great way to be creative, but it's also been beneficial for clients.

"The most common feedback I'm getting from people, is this, 'This is the first time I've gotten ready for something in a long time,' the first time I've done my hair or put makeup on, so I think this is giving them that sense of normalcy," Elario said. "And it's cool, I think whether it's a really simple shot of them against a white wall or a shot of them hanging out on their couch in quarantine - it's cool because they'll have that memory to look back on... some pretty pictures throughout all this ugly time."

‚ÄčElario is opening up some of these sessions for people to get FaceTime portraits taken a few days each week.

He says the best way to find out about the openings is to follow him on Instagram (@jpelario), but they've been selling out quickly. Elario says if you have an iPhone you can also try to take great photos on your own at home with the timer, offering these tips:

  • Prop the camera up or above eye level on whatever you have. He also recommends taping your phone to the top of where your laptop's camera is, because of the hinge of the laptop can help you get the right angle.
  • Find good lighting, preferably natural light coming from a window if possible
  • Look for a space with a blank wall, or not too much clutter
  • Have fun