Portland photographers capture families at home amid pandemic

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Portraits of families from their front porches are becoming a trend nationally

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland photographers are contributing to the national trend of taking front porch portraits of families amid stay-at-home orders in Oregon amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

Andrew Schaffer, who teaches digital media at Sandy High School in Sandy, Oregon, said he wanted to use the opportunity to further his knowledge of shooting portraits in general.

“Turns out, I’m not as original as I thought. There’s a lot of people doing this, which is awesome. And I’ve loved looking through all the Instagram posts of other photographers.”

The hashtag #frontporchproject is the most popular tag for the trend, which has garnered almost 40,000 posts on Instagram.

Schaffer said he tells his subjects to come out on their porches dressed like “whatever quarantine means to you,” which may be people in sweat or yoga pants. He tapped into friends and family for the portraits at first, but soon got more responses by posting on Next Door and Reddit and offering to do the portraits for free.

“It’s such a weird time that we’re going through and it’s got to be documented somehow,” Schaffer said.

The photographer is sticking to film photography for the project, a medium he’s been using for the past year. He can be reached at andrew@firwood.tv.

Another local photographer more experienced in portraits and who is usually inundated with wedding photography jobs this time of year is helping to raise funds for Oregon Food Bank through her approach to the front porch photography trend.

“I started receiving requests on my email, on my Instagram, from some of my previous clients who really wanted me to document this time. So after receiving about five of these requests I thought, well let’s give it a go,” said Jessica Hill, a wedding and lifestyle photographer.

Hill said she’s been busy photographing everything from a family’s recently purchased home to a front porch surprise birthday party.

Though there is a $79 fee for the portraits, it is only to cover basic operating costs, like travel expenses, with the profits going directly to Oregon Food Bank, Hill said.

“Not only am I doing these portraits for the families themselves, but on the broader scope of our city and state wanting to give back as much as possible to those who don’t have porches to have documented or don’t have food to share around the kitchen table,” she said.

Hill said she allows the families to be as creative, formal or informal as they want, with some families dressing up and others appearing just in jeans, a t-shirt and bare feet.

She said doing the front porch portraits has helped restore a sense of normalcy for her during the pandemic by reconnecting with clients she previously documented getting engaged, married or with a new born.

“That’s definitely a huge reason why I’m doing this, is just to build that community and to continue to foster those relationships.”

Hill is only offering the porch portraits in May for now and you can find out more about her work at jessicahillphotography.com/blog.

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