DOUGLAS — In a movement expanding all across the nation, photographers are picking up their cameras and families are stepping outside to pose for photos to document this time in history during the novel coronavirus pandemic in an endeavor known as the #frontporchproject.
Moms and dads, brothers and sisters and even the family pets are congregating in their front yards and on their front porches to capture memories in a positive, upbeat way.
Families in Douglas and Glenrock – along with a handful of gung ho photographers – are showing the world although the virus may have them cutting down on social interactions and staying home, they’re resilient and strong and will get through this time in unity.
Douglas photographer Anna Gusse, of Anna K. Creative Photography, said she felt an immediate need to do something positive during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“The Front Porch Project was started by photographers who saw a need for something positive in these times of uncertainty. When I saw a fellow photographer from South Dakota doing them, I immediately knew this town would love to participate. I had to spread some joy!” Gusse said.
Families were excited to book sessions with her – which, by the way are free – to document this time of home isolation.
Gusse suggested clients choose a person, animal shelter or food drive to donate to – a way to pass the kindness on to others.
“I didn’t want anything for doing this. Being a part of it has helped me stay connected with the amazing families in the community who I enjoy seeing during my sessions. I was missing them terribly during this time. It’s made me feel like I did something good during a time of so much uncertainty,” she said.
Gusse’s been taking pictures in Douglas for seven years. Her interest in photography started in high school when she took a photography class, then she went on to college and received a bachelors of science with a minor in arts.
“I always have my camera by my side, doing a few friends’ engagements, family photos and a couple weddings for free before even giving myself a title or business – it was just for fun! After having my son, I needed to give myself an outlet and again started taking photos, which lead to my little photography business that this wonderful community has supported so amazingly. I am so blessed,” she said.
Gusse’s partner in Douglas is Andrea Tena, with AKT Photography.
“She saw I was doing them and wanted to join in. We’d never worked together before but chatted on Facebook here and there about photography and we know each other from school, kids and being a tight knit community,” she explained.
Tena is excited about participating in the project, too.
“Being a part of the front porch project has allowed me to do what I love and put smiles on peoples faces regardless of the circumstances. I’ve also gotten to make new connections with people in Douglas. This whole project has made me feel blessed that the pictures I’ve taken will hold stories of the good moments that came out of what we are going through,” Tena said.
The photographers said they are diligent in regard to keeping their distance during photo shoots.
“It’s something we can do for the community which is positive and creates a memory during this big time in history. We can do that with our cameras. I feel it’s so important to keep our morale upbeat in a time like this.
“I love that I can help in some way. I love sharing these photos on social media to bring cheer and a little happiness to more than those who participate,” Gusse said.
The families who participate are known to get creative – such as the Cornick-Denelsbeck family who posed in their front yard with a four-wheeler and camping set-up.
“Their creativity is what makes this so positive and fun. We’ve had about 50 families take part so far since the middle of March when we started isolating,” she said.
The front porch photography project is impacting people by giving them the opportunity to get outside, get dressed up and have some fun posing for photos, all while following distancing guidelines.
“Anna’s done our pictures for years. We thought we’d get on board and pay it forward,” Heather Cornick said, sitting in a camp chair on her front lawn just after a photo session with Gusse last week.