"Love in Covid19 times" a charity project that gave me a purpose during these uncertain times. The project ran for 2 weeks. 115 Lexington families participated and we fundraised $5,737 for Meals on Wheels! ❤️❤️❤️⠀
EDIT: In loving memory of my grandma who passed away this morning 4/29/2020 at the age of 103. When I wrote this blog yesterday she was still with us... Mi Nonita amada, the most generous and sweet soul, your unconditional kindness was your magic. We'll miss you so much. You'll live in our hearts forever!
ATP is temporarily closed due to Covid19. For how long? who knows. There is so much to say, so many feelings involved. So many questions and anxiety... ⠀
- FINANCIALLY. I run a seasonal business with Spring being a huge percentage of my family's yearly income, we started cutting family expenses right away.⠀
- OPERATIONAL. I had to stop working with IDS ~ Hubspot marketing agency since I couldn't afford them anymore.⠀
- EMOTIONAL. Would I EVER be able to bounce back? I had given my all to grow my business and overnight it's shot down. Will people want family photos once the crisis is over? will there be a market that can afford my work? ⠀
- PERSONAL. There are SO many people suffering so much and I felt I had to do something. But what?? ⠀
The world had stopped. For good reasons. As everyone, I was finding a new normal and coping with grief. By mid March, I had gone through all stages. From having a meltdown crying while doing the dishes to cherishing the 24x7 time with my kids. The ups and downs are real. It's a one day at a time approach.⠀
THEN a friend of mine told me about this 'front step project'. It was a before and after moment. I found a calling, a PURPOSE. I couldn't stop smiling. In 24 hours I launched the project (thanks #hubspot). I was on a mission. I called the project "Love in Covid19 times" and decided to support Meals on Wheels ~ I have a VERY special place in my heart for the elderly! My Grandma is 103 years old and I grew up surrounded by love from the elderly.
Once I had my north it was nonstop! ❤️⠀
Even though I couldn't be close to the families - I photographed them from +10ft away - I felt SO connected to each of them. The smiles, the moments captured, and the snuggles. Documenting this moment in time gave me a purpose and SO many reasons to smile. IT HEALED MY SOUL! ⠀
Logistics & behind the scenes
When you give you receive much more! My soul healed ❤️
The emotional peak was when photographing doctors, nurses, and front line people that I scheduled in same day request (many were about to go to work and then quarantine alone for weeks). In instances, I clicked the shutter swallowing tears. Thank YOU frontline workers for your incredible dedication to us all!! ⠀
My family will never forget this time driving together for hours through our home town Lexington! ~ my husband drove me & the girls to +40 houses, we sang Frozen 2 and ate snacks 💜⠀
Days started early. The girls packed their favorite toys and books. I prepped the camera bag and my husband made sure the route was optimized to perfection. ⠀
This is how it worked. We would arrive to a house, I would step off the car and photograph the family (waving happily from the distance!). My husband would text 2 houses out and set the GPS for the next stop. The girls were 'hunting' for bears in the windows! ⠀
In the afternoon I would do the routes alone while the girls stayed home with my husband ❤️❤️❤️. We were a dream team! ⠀
Having a mission with a purpose gave us all the energy we needed to accomplish great things and forget the difficulties! My girls were excited to participate supporting this Meals on Wheels cause 😀My husband - the most supportive partner - drove me around for hours with a BIG smile.
Every route got better and smoother. I learned with each route how to prep my families better (haha asking them to have dogs on leash was a big one! haha) and I made the system more efficient over time. Looking back, it's incredible that 115 families got their family portrait taken with only 5 routes total! Hands off to delivery people who plan routes and stay on time! I have a new appreciation for when a delivery company gives you a 2 hour time window! 😀⠀
What the project meant to these families
It was my biggest joy to understand what this family portrait meant for these families ❤️❤️❤️⠀Here are what they shared with me:
- Some families needed something to look forward to!
- Others felt great just dressing up after weeks!
- Some had fun picking the most appropriate quarantine props!
- For others it was their first professional photo and had (good) goosebumps with the expectation!
- Some said this project brought joy and connection at a time when we feel afraid and separate.
- Others mentioned it was a dream to have an ATP portrait in their walls (💛)
- Someone mentioned that these portraits are part of the world's history. Like the photos you see of Lexington boys who went to war in 1941.
- And for some who are holding the fort at home, it meant having a breathtaking memory to hold on tight while their spouses go back to working on COVID teams at hospitals.⠀
Each of the 115 families brought me joy and a smile! I'm so happy that it was mutual, this project brought them happy moments as well!⠀
These family portraits will live for generations to come. We'll never forget this moment in time. Being able to document it for so many families was a blessing.⠀
How did a lifestyle photographer take on the 'posing' challenge?
I call my style Real Art Photography, I define it as Fine Art inspired by candid moments 😊❤️⠀
Yet this project was SO different from what I do! ⠀
Opposite spectrums with a confined space (front door) AND actually posing people. ⠀
In my regular session I'm always outdoors or on location, shooting for emotion, I chase the candid & unexpected moments. The hugs, the snuggles. It's raw, messy, and playful. ⠀
I always read the children. I run while playing hide and seek, I jump on rocks or pick flowers while talking about their favorite teacher, or we talk about their favorite sport/college. Yet in this front door project there was little interaction. I was 10 feet away on top of stairs/steps. We couldn't interact much yet the connection was SO strong. ⠀
In crisis or emotional moments, there is a non-spoken language that connects us deeply. I've felt this before -when shooting births - I was there in their front door honoring a family and document a moment in time. With very few words exchanged yet an OCEAN of purpose! ⠀
Short & super sweet sessions. My heart was SO FULL after meeting each family.⠀
I've also never posed so many families in my lifetime! In my galleries I always have 1-2 portraits that I call grandma's framed shots, with 'everyone looking at the camera and smiling'. Yet the bulk of my galleries are images full of emotions and candid moments. Those moments that my soul will crave for a decade from now.⠀
Yet in this project, I found joy posing these families, it felt so different and fun! The challenge was so meaningful.⠀
What didn't change was the editing. Still Fine Art, I edited and painted each family portrait to be a piece of Art. ⠀
It gave me so much peace to edit them. During the girls 'quiet time' I edited non stop, that was my ME time during a couple of quarantine weeks and I loved it.
So yes, this lifestyle photographer adapted to photograph families standing still in front of their doors. I actually loved it! A new challenge with a HUGE purpose behind it! ⠀
This project will live in my heart forever ❤
The hardest decision: when to stop?
I promised my family that I wouldn't get sick doing this project. I kept +10ft distance at all times yet it became harder and harder to keep my promise over time. Way too many people in some streets, walking/jogging to close to me (and I couldn't avoid them by moving since I'm shooting and not looking sideways), some wanted to engage in conversation (I would do too in their shoes! it's hilarious to watch someone on top of steps/stairs when you don't see anyone posing ~ since the family is SO far away from me). Photographing the families was safe and sound yet for me there were still some risks associated to the experience. ⠀
When to stop was a BIG question (and a problem to be honest 😓, I did NOT want to stop ❤️ I would have fundraised for months!!)⠀
When I decided to launch the project I didn't know what to expect, I set a goal to raise $1,000 for Meals on Wheels. I launched the project at midnight and woke up with 20 or so signups (yay, I was SO happy!). Then I got to 35 sign ups and route #1 took place. Then up to 70, 80 sign ups... we hit +$4,000 for Meals on Wheels (wohooo!!). Then overnight I hit 100 sign ups. I added a waitlist. BUT how would I NOT photograph them? I looked at the map and I had to drive pass their houses for other scheduled routes. So I welcomed them in and added more routes. To literally close the project I had to pick a LAST DAY/ROUTE and welcomed families until then. ⠀
Every family portrait taken was more $ raised for Meals on Wheels! 115 families participated, $5,737 raised for Meals on Wheels.⠀
I would have kept going NON STOP throughout the entire quarantine if not for the promise I made to my family ❤️. I am a mom of 2 little girls.⠀
I added more routes than the ones I had 'negotiated' at home, twice squeezing 38 houses in a day!
Knowing when to stop is HARD, even harder when you're passionate but it was my responsibility as a mom. Now I'm staying home for my family ❤️❤️
Heartbreaking times and the value of family
I never imagined that by the time I finished working on of these series life would be so emotional. My loved brother-in-law passed away on 4/18 back home in Venezuela. My heart is broken for my sister, nephews, and niece. An incredible family man. ⠀
Not been able to fly to Venezuela and hug my sister was devastating, it's just sad beyond words. We are 6 siblings who adore each other and ALWAYS support each other. And during this unimaginable pain, my sister was ALONE. We all live abroad and couldn't make it due to quarantine. My mom couldn't hug her either.
Family is everything and we just couldn't be together, we unexpectedly woke up to the unimaginable. Everyone is grieving alone in each house, the toughest journey.
Love will hold my sister and give her strength. God will guide her way ❤️⠀
Today is a gift. We don't know what tomorrow will bring. Hug your significant other tight. Snuggle with your kids. Call your parents ❤️
My sisters -as always- were the first ones to sign up for this project! Their support is unconditional, I'm also happy that they'll have SO many family memories as years go by! I just ADORE them!! When I see them I'll hug them for hours.
Left (me and my family), center (my twin Dani and her family). Right (my sister Gaby, the only NON-Lexington photo, she lives in Weston and that made it extra special)
Every loss is a wake up call, it reminds me that family memories are a treasure. I'm blessed with a job that let me presence a LOVE story every single day. I'm documenting and capturing the type of love that will last a lifetime, that's such a blessing!
May you hold these memories of this extraordinary time in your heart forever!!
Lexington a community that I adore with all my heart!
I am grateful to live in Lexington, a community whose generosity towards Meals on Wheels exceeded my wildest dreams, $5,737 raised for the elderly!
Thank YOU as well for giving me a purpose when I needed it the most. 115 families opened their hearts and doors to me, I'll NEVER forget this charity project :)
To each family who participated, you have my heart. In moments of crisis you supported those who needed the most. Many seniors will be receiving their meals because of YOU. Thank YOU from the bottom of my heart!
Wishing you all a healthy journey! Stay safe. Be kind.