Hey everyone, I’m Jamie and I’m a lifestyle and natural light photographer, military spouse, and mom of two boys, living in Dayton, Ohio.
Like most of the world, my business was drastically affected by the Coronavirus. Postponing sessions with clients was heartbreaking and following the stay-at-home order seemed to be torturous since we’re such an active family. After a few days I started to wonder about my fellow neighbors, most of which are young families, and what they must be going through during the pandemic.
So, I started asking myself, “What could I do? How could I give back, to spread hope to my neighbors and give them a little bit of joy to look forward too? I didn’t know if people would be interested in what I had in mind and I even questioned if one person could make that much of a difference. I would soon find out.
After talking to my husband and fellow neighbors about my idea, I decided to use my community’s Facebook page to see if anyone would be interested in family portraits on their front porch to commemorate this crazy period in our lives. In my post, I explained that this wouldn’t be a typical photo shoot because we needed to maintain social distancing and the proper precautions to avoid anyone getting sick. Instead, I would break out my zoom lens and take pictures of their families from the street or sidewalk. Within minutes my phone was being blown up! I couldn’t believe how many people were excited to be a part of what I would eventually call, The Oakwood Front Porch Project, and I couldn’t wait to get started!
With the tremendous number of families that wanted to be a part of the project I had to book four to five hour long periods of back-to-back shoots, staggered every 15 minutes for seven days just to get to most of the families. Then, I’d stay up late into the night after my kids went to bed just to finish the editing. At times it felt overwhelming but when I’d see all of those smiling faces and the amount of joy my efforts were bringing to people, it was easy to keep going. It was all worth it knowing that I was taking a little part in pulling our community together while the Coronavirus was forcing everyone apart. One of the best parts of this project was the reaction after everyone received their pictures. I was blown away by the pride they took in sharing their images, showing them off through their Facebook profiles, and writing about how thankful they were to have pictures to remember these moments as a family.
I was shocked by all of the thank you notes, reviews, and personal messages of gratitude and thankfulness that all my wonderful neighbors sent my way. I just wanted to donate my time and effort to help strengthen our community but it was really nice to see that everyone appreciated what I was doing. Along the way, so many people asked how they could repay me, and my response every time was that this was just about giving back and spreading joy to our community during this time of uncertainty. The look on their faces was mostly disbelief. Even with the virus affecting my business, I believe that if I have the means to help, I should. I may not know their personal struggles, but I knew that I could at least do my part to help spread some joy.