Photographers Assisting the Pandemic Fight

This photo, “Audrey,” was taken by local photographer Annick Sjobakken and is for sale on Shutter Priority, which donates proceeds to the Broadlawns Medical Foundation. Photo: Annick Sjobakken

When COVID-19 gripped the nation in mid-March, Annick Sjobakken felt almost helpless. A local photographer, she wasn’t reporting to the front lines like medical professionals or retail workers. But she wanted to do her part. On social media, she spotted a few friends in New York selling their work and donating the proceeds to local hospitals. She talked to fellow photographer Jami Milne, and in May they created Shutter Priority, an online photo store that splits revenue between artists and the Broadlawns Medical Foundation.

“It feels like I’m doing my part,” Sjobakken says. “It’s something I’ve never done before, but as a photographer, this is something I could do to help. I’m really enjoying it, and it’s brought people together.”

Many of the photographers on the site are Des Moines-based, but there also are contributors from around the state. To gather the group, Sjobakken reached out to her contacts via social media and put out a call for local artists, and almost a dozen people answered. Sjobakken says each photo listed on the website has three prints available for purchase.

Shutter Priority is one of the several online initiatives taking part in Art Week Des Moines, which kicked off last Friday with events and programs held online or viewable from a safe distance. Sjobakken says Shutter Priority has received some interest but is hopeful the event generates more sales.

“Right now, we’re pressing forward,” Sjobakken says. “We’re hoping with more attention from Art Week our sales will be quite a bit more. But we’ve had nothing but a positive experience so far.”

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