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Ex-daily photographer launches charity drive amid freelance work drought

Will JohnstonA former regional press photographer of the year has launched a charity fundraising drive after the coronvirus pandemic put paid to his freelance work.

Will Johnston, who worked for the Leicester Mercury until 2017, is offering doorstep portraits to families in Kenilworth, the Warwickshire town where he lives, to capture their time living under lockdown restrictions.

The photos are free and being uploaded to social media, but Will, pictured, is asking for donations to be made to NHS charities in lieu of payment.

The winner of the Daily/Sunday Photographer of the Year at the Regional Press Awards for 2013, Will had not picked up his camera for a month when he decided to start the project.

Will, 36, said: “I’d had weeks of no work and I was feeling a bit sorry for myself being at home with the kids. Then I had the idea of capturing families together during these extraordinary times and it’s just taken off.

“I’m bringing a smile to people’s faces and raising money for charity.  And this project has made me feel useful again.”

Will stands at the end of subjects’ driveways – at least two metres away – as he captures families embracing each other for their portrait.

He has already smashed an initial fundraising target of £500 and now hopes to raise £1,000 through the project.

Will, who says he has been “swamped” with requests for portraits, added: “Giving something back is the least I can do.

“And if people are getting nice photos they can share with grannies and grandads who they can’t see, then even better.”

You can read all our coronavirus-related stories here.

One of the portraits Will has taken for the project

One of the portraits Will has taken for the project