The Front Porch Project

Grace Allen
Jon and Megan Hanson and their children, of Medfield. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Miller Photography)
Issue Date: 
May, 2020
Article Body: 

A local photographer is chronicling the coronavirus pandemic by taking photos of families in front of their homes. Dubbed the “Front Porch Project,” the photo series is based on an idea by a Newton photographer and is taking off around the country. It aims to capture this unique moment in time, when life is halted, through the lens of a camera.
Jess Sullivan is a part-time photographer who focuses on life-style photos of families. She heard about the Front Porch Project and decided the pandemic presented a perfect opportunity to use her talents to record history in the making.
All while maintaining social distancing, of course.
“I thought, what an amazing thing to do during this time to document history and give back to the community,” said Sullivan.
She does not charge for the photos. Instead, Sullivan asks recipients to donate whatever amount they can afford to a local cause or charity.
“It can be $10 or $50,” said the Norfolk resident. “There’s no set amount. It’s so difficult financially for everyone right now.”
So far, Sullivan has photographed over forty families from around the area for the Front Porch Project. She believes that taking the photos is an opportunity to create positive memories while acknowledging “we’re all in this together.”
“It’s a dark time,” she said. “But at the same time, we are forced to slow down and truly appreciate what’s going on in our homes with our children, with our loved ones.”
With her photographer’s eye, Sullivan has noticed how the pandemic has changed life for people around her, often in a positive way. She sees families taking walks together around her neighborhood, noting even teenagers seem to be engaged more with their parents while out and about.
“They’re out walking with their parents and maybe not distracted as much by social media,” she said. “It’s a good step back.”
Sullivan’s photo shoots serve as a moment of normalcy during unsettled times. For some people, it can be the first time in weeks they’ve put on something other than sweatpants.

“You can see it in their demeanor when I take the photos,” she said. “It’s like, ‘let’s just make the best of it and document it while we’re here.’”
The mother of four young children, Sullivan is in the throes of dealing with uncertain times at home herself.

“Embrace the chaos, that’s my mantra,” she laughed. “It’s a wild ride and I’m blessed to be part of it.”
Contact Sullivan at [email protected] if you’d like to be part of the Front Porch Project.