The Front Steps Project started by Cara Soulia in Needham Massachusetts has gone viral, in a good way! This project started out as two women who wanted to capture this monumental time in history as we all decided to “STAY HOME” for the sake of slowing down the virus. The Front Steps project has been met with some dismay, saying “These photographers are NOT staying home”. I wanted to share with you all my experience with The Front Steps Project, what I learned, and how I approached this amazing project for my town of Chelmsford, MA.
After posting on Chelmsford News, our local Facebook page in town, I received an overwhelming response for families desiring a front step photo. I was overwhelmed, but excited to be able to photograph people again! I planned to photograph as many families as I could before the impending shut down scheduled for March 24th. I promised to stand at least 6 feet away and not touch any of my clients. I joked at the first home I pulled up to, by leaning out of my car window with my camera and took a couple photos that way for safety’s sake! As a full-time photographer I knew this world-wide shut down would impact my business. I didn’t know it would impact it for the better because of the Front Steps Project.
Thanks to the project I met and connected with so many amazing people, who used to be strangers, all over my town. I saw areas of Chelmsford I never knew existed; hidden neighborhoods, side streets, and culdasacks. But, most importantly I had amazing conversations. I heard stories of nurses and doctors on the front lines, people who were serving their communities through donations to Veterans, and even had two clients share only with me that they were expecting!!! I saw pregnant mother’s hopeful, but nervous and comforted them. I met single parents at the end of their rope and shared that there is hope, one day at a time. I truly connected with people.
I think the most impactful thing that I learned was that we NEED human connection, whether from 12 feet away or not. A neighbor, a friend, even a stranger stopping by to say, “hi” and ask “how are you holding up” brought more comfort than any one of us could have expected. I was able to be that person and I am so thankful to have served my town in this way.
In my business it’s customary that most clients come ready for picture day, looking their best with fresh hair, nails, and coordinating outfits. These sessions (for the most part) were not like that at all! People came ” as they were” (my family’s front step pic is a perfect example, totally not staged, see above). I saw pajama pants, mismatched shoes, kids with un-kept hair, and lots of lounge wear. I also saw families “ready” for a photo who expressed that they were, “..so excited to do their makeup and hair for the first time in a week!” Whatever the case, I met real people, real families, who needed real JOY during this uncertain time.
I have been so encouraged by the thoughtful ways so many have chosen to “pay it forward.” I did not charge for these sessions, just simply asked you to GIVE BACK to our community by doing something nice for someone. From front steps I heard of clients giving to nurses, veterans, hospital cleaning staff, their nail & hair service providers, and to world wide relief projects. Many of these families also chose to give to the The Joy Crew, an organization that my children began in 2017 to bring lego sets to kids in the hospital. We have received over $200 in donations at this point and will order and mail lego sets soon!
Many are asking if I’ll continue to do The Front Steps Project in Chelmsford.
My answer: I hope to continue later in April.
I am being very cautious during this time. My family is currently on lockdown, we’re only playing outside and getting groceries once a week. My kids are not on playdates and I am not going anywhere right now. I am soaking up the time at home, working on the “back end” of my business so I can stay healthy to serve my clients to the best of my ability when non-essential businesses are back in action.
I hope to see you on your Front Steps, at a family session, or wedding this upcoming season. I wish you all health and happiness as you weather this wild time in our country’s history.
Allie.Photo is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. I love to photograph people who love life as much as I do. I specialize in photography that is bright and joyful, and promise you will enjoy the entire process. I serve awesome people everywhere within the Greater Boston area to the White Mountains, Cape Cod, and all over New England. Reach out today you’re planning a wedding or need family photos and think we might be a great fit!