Photographers – many of whom have lost their job of booking for weddings, births, and other special moments and have been canceled due to new social distance policies – are using their skills to give something back during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Front Steps Project, launched by photographer Cara Soulia and marketing consultant Kristen Collins, started on March 17 in Needham, Massachusetts, where Soulia and two other photographers began documenting local families in self-isolation. In accordance with the protocol of social distancing, families pose from their front steps and porches, or even behind windows and glass doors, while photographers keep their distance by standing at least a meter away, taking a few snapshots, and walking after a few minutes. No money will be exchanged, but participating families are asked to make a charitable donation. (More than $ 18,000 was raised in Needham for Soulia and Collins’ charity, the Needham Community Council.)
The demand for the shoot has skyrocketed – Collins tells Yahoo Lifestyle that they have received more than 550 requests from families in Needham alone – and now dozens of photographers across the country are taking care of the matter in their own cities.
“We are amazed and overwhelmed by the response,” says Collins. “We never thought that our little idea would be so successful at this level. “Families love it when someone has fun during the day, children look forward to such things and even the pets are there. People tell us that they love the reason to get up, shower, get dressed and be in the fresh air. “
According to Collins, the participating photographers, whom she estimates to be around 200, with around 3,200 tagged #TheFrontStepsProject on Instagram, also benefit from “finding a way to give something back in this terrible time.”
Mel Cole, a photographer in Austin, Texas, said the project “brought me a little luck because I know I can give people and families a portrait of time and history.”
She adds that both parties seem to enjoy connecting in a time of isolation.
“When I showed up in this family’s house, everyone came out and the 6-year-old boy shouted: ‘It’s my birthday, I’m 6 today! ‘I called back:’ Well, we’d better document this special day for you! ‘”
Brooklyn-based photographer Adina Lerner said the shoot had given her a “new purpose as a photographer and community member” after she had to cancel quarantine appearances.
“I am a lifestyle and documentary photographer and the documentary filmmaker in me wants to photograph everything that helps tell the story of Brooklyn at the moment,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Photos of these families are special. Those of us who are not at the forefront are all at home, with our families, and are trying to get everything that needs to be done going. “
Like other photographers involved, Lerner takes special precautions for the shots, from agreeing an exact arrival time to maintaining a safe distance. It also lets families – who fill out a form to request a shoot – make a donation to a charity of their choice.
“You come out, we wave hello and talk and laugh from afar!” Says Lerner. “When we’re done (five minutes later), we wave goodbye. You will receive a digital copy of your photo from me within 24 hours. “
According to Collins, the project isn’t just about giving photographers and isolated families a break. The resulting images capture a somewhat ordinary moment – a family home – during a really surreal time.
“We didn’t notice when we started, but we now know exactly – these images have the potential to stay in families as part of the story for generations,” she says. “Nobody will forget the COVID pandemic that has stopped the world. I hope that when families look back, they can look back with memories of how they got along in that time. However, all of our memories will be different, and since we don’t know how and when this will end, we have no idea what they will look like. “
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