A WEDDING photographer left high and dry by the coronavirus pandemic is bringing joy to families by holding photoshoots on their doorsteps.

Ellie Stone has been taking snaps of families in the White Court and Great Notley area so they can share them with loved ones they haven't seen since the start of the lockdown.

Ellie, 23, has been running the free photoshoots during her daily walk around the villages on Saturdays and has brought a smile to dozens of families who have taken up her offer.

She said: "I saw a friend was doing something similar in Dagenham and thought I would see if there was much interest here.

"Essentially I arrange a time with people to come along and take a photo of them on their doorsteps so it complies with social distancing.

"I put something up on Facebook and have been really surprised at the response. I have been inundated with messages and requests from families.

"I've even had to turn people down from further afield because of the lockdown restrictions."

Ellie's goodwill has also seen her temporarily return to her role as a keyworker at Tesco after she was made redundant due to the financial impact if Covid-19.

Her part-time photography business is also now firmly on hold because of the pandemic but she insists running the free photoshoots for families has given her a major boost.

She does not ask for any payment for taking the photos but instead asks families to make a donation to a charity of their choice.

Among the charities to benefit from the scheme are Macmillan Cancer Care, MIND, Essex Air Ambulance, Cancer Research UK and Myeloma UK.

She added: "It's been really lovely helping people and seeing how much it's meant to them.

"I got asked to take a photo of a family with a five-week-old baby who were so happy because it was their first photo together.

"I've also helped arrange a photograph of my friend's grandparents and sent it to her. She hasn't seen them in so long and was over the moon to get the photo.

"It's been great to be able to bring a bit of joy at this difficult time and help people connect with their families and friends - even if they can't see each other."

Ellie says her photoshoots are not just limited to families and have also included taking snaps of pets.

Anyone interested in arranging a free photoshoot should contact Ellie on her Facebook page, Ellie Mae Photography.