As a professional photographer based in Aldie, Sarah Santa Ana's business, Santa Ana Photography, took a significant hit when the coronavirus pandemic resulted in strict social-distancing measures.
"I was rescheduling a lot of weddings, I was rescheduling a lot of family sessions," she told the Times-Mirror. "There wasn't a whole lot that I could do to serve my clients, and I felt kind of bad about that."
While speaking to her niece, a high school senior in Michigan, Santa Ana realized the sadness she and the rest of the Class of 2020 are facing.
"She was very emotionally down in the dumps," Santa Ana said. "She wasn't able to have graduation, she wasn't able to have prom, she wasn't able to see her boyfriend."
A creative idea then came to Santa Ana, and she offered her niece a free photo session ... from hundreds of miles away.
"Obviously I can't be there, so I talked about maybe doing it over the phone," she said. "She was game for that."
After a successful shoot with her niece over FaceTime, Santa Ana began offering virtual photo sessions for anyone graduating high school this year, completely free of charge.
"It's something I've been offering to seniors all over the country: obviously my niece in Michigan; I had a girl in California; I did one in Colorado. I would love to get some more local involvement," she said.
To participate in a virtual photo session, Santa Ana asks that clients have a strong internet connection and, of course, a device with a camera. Though some connections result in lower-resolution screenshots than others, she found a way to work around that obstacle.
"If it's going to be kind of a lower-grade quality, I take the final images and I edit toward a more vintage aesthetic," she explained. "They tend to have almost a '70s film vibe when they get their final product. ... I try to make an art form out of it."
Following the success of her virtual photoshoots with graduating seniors, Santa Ana has begun offering similar sessions for families, children and other clients at a reduced rate. She has done work for clients both locally and as far away as the Philippines.
"That one, it was kind of late on my end, but it worked out just fine," she laughed.
As the world awaits the end of the current social-distancing period, Santa Ana Photography continues to accept bookings for the relatively near future, as well as other forms of support from the community.
"We are still taking weddings for next year, we are still booking family sessions for next year and we're also taking gift cards," Santa Ana said. "Any ways that people want to support my business, I am absolutely more than happy to accept those."