With the fourth week of the COVID-19 pandemic behind her, a Williams Lake professional photographer has found a way to share joy.
Laureen Carruthers made a Facebook post Monday offering a digital image of her “Covid Cow” photo for free and by Tuesday morning it had been downloaded 883 times.
“Holy cow,” seems fitting.
On Monday, April 13, she was navigating the Internet for a couple of hours and feeling more and more saddened by what she was reading.
“It was everything from conspiracy theories, to political, to everybody disagreeing with one another. It was so much, I think you can say hate, coming out of people. It was horrible and exhausting and I find the more we are going into this the more we are seeing.”
Her mood changed when a request came in from a photographer friend in Texas who messaged her asking if she could purchase a particular Highland cow photograph.
“She said her son was having a hard time and she remembered the cow. Her son loves Highland cows and she thought it might cheer him up,” Carruthers told the Tribune. “I said, ‘you don’t have to purchase it,’ and then it got me thinking that I could do this for more than one person. I did and I never dreamed how quickly it would take off.”
Carruthers did suggest in a Facebook post that it would be nice if people downloading the photograph consider doing something good for another person.
“I’ve had some really cool things people have told me that they’ve done.”
So far one person in the U.S. made $100 donations to the Salvation Army and to a hospital.
“A lot of the people that are making masks for first responders got one, some doing cooking for seniors or people who are shut in, another local person made a donation to the Salvation Army. The thing I’m really excited about is a lot of people said they’d send me photos when they hang the photo in their house.”
One woman is going to hang the photo in her 100-year old farm house in Virginia.
The furthest away she’d heard from by Tuesday was from someone in South Africa.
Highland cows are popular right now for home decor, she added.
The photograph was taken in 2017 at a ranch in Springhouse about 30 minutes south of Williams Lake.
She’d been looking for Highland cows to photograph, put a notice out and received a message back from the ranch owner.
“It was winter and his fur was frozen on him which made the photograph kind of cool,” she recalled, adding it was a windy, cold and tough day to do the photo shoot. “There was a ton of stuff in the background so I made it a very stark black and white and copied the snow in the background and I just love how it turned out.”
It’s actually one of her photographs she’s printed and framed to hang in her house above her fireplace mantel, she added.
Going through the pandemic has made her realize how lucky her situation is, she said.
“Aside from the stress of having to pay studio rent, so far my family is healthy. My kids are healthy and my mom lives in my basement which is a big comfort that she is not in a care home.”
Her biggest fear during the present pandemic is for her brother, Larry Klein, who is a physician living in Squamish and working in the emergency department at the hospital.
“I worry a lot about him. My middle son Keaton who is 21 is currently living with him, so obviously I worry about both of them getting COVID-19. “
Financially it has been devastating as she cannot safely photograph newborns and many weddings have been cancelled.
“I have no idea what the future holds honestly as I don’t know how long I can continue paying studio rent without bringing in any revenue,” she said.
Something positive she’s discovered about herself during self-distancing is a love for building furniture.
She’s made herself a shelf and then was so content with it she decided to build a desk for her home office.
“It’s pretty awesome. I probably wouldn’t have found out I could build a desk. I wouldn’t have had the time without COVID-19.”
Chuckling Carruthers said she’s having a less difficult time following her brother’s advice to stay home than her mom, Alice Klein.
“She’s pretty social so she’s missing her yoga, her exercise classes, her coffee with friends, and a lot of things. She’s very social so she’s not loving this. But we are all listening to my brother because we figure he is pretty smart on what we should be doing.”
In Williams Lake she said she’s observed some good things and some bad things.
“I think if you go on certain Facebook groups you see a lot of the ugly. Facebook is a huge part of my business so I cannot cancel it.”
In 2017 Carruthers arranged to photograph 31 babies born during the wildfires after being approached by one of the moms.