Front Steps Project met families where they were

Mar 25, 2020

In the brief period between widespread social distancing and the Governor’s order on March 23 that shut down all nonessential businesses, Mattapoisett photographer Cindy Irving found a way to still interact with others as much as she could, and to raise $1,150 for charity. 

Needham photographer Cara Soulia started The Front Steps Project to accomplish both those goals, and when Irving saw the project online she was inspired to join in. 

The project gets its name from its five minute photography sessions with families that sit on their front steps, while photographers capture the images from a safe distance of ten feet away. 

Families receive one lightly edited image from the shoot, and in return donate to a charity of their choice. 

Although Irving wasn’t profiting from the sessions, when the March 23 order came across she felt that she was toeing the line a little too much, and decided to stop the project just to be on the safe side.

Irving said she was interested in the effort because she is an “extrovert who loves to be around people. It’s a good way of being out and meeting people while everyone is home.”

On her website for the project, Irving wrote “I aim to highlight the faces of our community during a time when we might not see them in passing at the grocery store, coffee shop, on the train, or at the gym.”  

The rapid-fire sessions were much different from what the photographer normally does. 

With more traditional bookings, she makes an effort to get to know the subjects. In these mini photoshoots, she may not even learn their names. At times she found herself yelling to even be able to hear. 

Irving offered sessions in Mattapoisett, Marion, Rochester, Fairhaven, Dartmouth, Acushnet, and New Bedford. She said that she was disorganized on her first day and, as a result, drove around a lot. 

Tri-Town donations went to Healing Little Hearts, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ALS Family and Damien’s Food Pantry.

“This is not a typical get-dressed-up-and-pose-for-the-photographer session,” Irving wrote on her site. “Want to stand outside in your pajamas and slippers? Sounds good to me.” 

However she said most sessions were pretty normal. The most interesting thing she saw was a family who brought their goats.