Photographers Donna Mueller and Randi Childs and a growing group of photographers are bringing smiles to families’ faces through the #TheFrontPorchProject.
“The purpose of this project is to bring us together during this difficult time, put a smile on people’s faces by capturing a moment they can always look back on and also know that by taking part they also helped another family,” explained Mueller.
Lynda Lederer-Natale and her family used their portrait as an opportunity to show off their Pleasantville Pride. Each of them wore a Pleasantville shirt and even their dog was sporting a green, Pleasantville bandana. The Lederer-Natale family felt this was an opportunity to give back to their community by donating to Pleasantville Strong, a coalition that offers peer counseling and aims to reduce underage drinking, drug use and other unhealthy behaviors.
“I am not saying that because of this situation kids are going to become addicted, however, they will need this when they get back, they will need these resources next year,” said Lederer-Natale.
Learning About #TheFrontPorchProject
We are currently facing unprecedented circumstances and self-quarantining in our homes and social distancing has become a new way of living. However, it is during these times that photographers participating with #TheFrontPorchProject are saying it’s important to remember to smile, too. And hundreds of residents and business owners are embracing that message, and participating. The pictures can also serve as a historical and life affirming record of families and businesses persevering during a pandemic.
The initiative, started by photographer Cara Soulia of Needham, Massachusetts, has inspired photographers worldwide to participate. Soulia launched the initiative as a way to lift people’s spirits during this difficult time. After reading an article about this, Mueller and Childs both had the idea of bringing it here as a way to give back to the community at large.
Inspiring Community Unity
Childs explained that the way our community unifies in times of crisis is inspiring. “It is absolutely amazing that we can come together in such a beautiful way in a time of need.”
Childs put a post on Facebook about the project and asked if there were any other photographers who would like to help out. That is how she formed her team with Carolyn Simpson and Debra Baron. These women help Childs organize her time slots and take photographs. As a part of this project, photographers go to people’s homes and photograph them on their porch, stoop or front steps.
Some families include a picture of a rainbow indicating this storm will pass and others hold up posters they made saying ‘Be Safe’ or ‘Miss You.’ One family that participated held up signs they made thanking essential workers.
For Holly Boes, a family portrait was something to look forward to. “It made for a bright and shiny spot during a dark time and now we have been able to pay it forward,” said Boes.
In exchange for the photographs, families are making donations to local businesses of their choice through the purchase of a gift certificate and passing it along to someone they know who is out of work during this pandemic, donating directly to the business or to a particular cause.
The photographers’ goal with the donation aspect of the project is to personalize it and allow people to donate to local businesses and causes they believe in.
High school principals, nurses and teachers have all taken part in this project and now Mueller is getting small businesses in the mix. On Monday April 6, she is visiting local businesses and members of the Pleasantville Chamber of Commerce, and photographing them in front of their storefronts.
The demand for #TheFrontPorchProject is continuing to grow. Since March 24, Mueller has captured 80 families and has a list of another 70 families she will visit within the next seven to 10 days. Childs had 18 shoots scheduled in one day and welcomed Baron and Simpson to help her manage the requests.
This project has a great impact on families, both who participate and those who just view the gallery. #TheFrontPorchProject has accomplished the photographers’ mission of bringing positivity into people’s days during challenging times.
Lederer-Natale said, “life is short and you have to capture it moment by moment. Although this may not be a moment that you want to remember going on, in the future we can look back on this family photo and say, ‘it’s okay, it will get better.’”
To view #FrontPorchProject pics by Randi Childs:
To view #FrontPorchProject pics by Donna Mueller: