Spotlight: Dave Norton’s Quarantine Porch Portraits in Flemington

Spotlight: Dave Norton’s Quarantine Porch Portraits in Flemington

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Dave Norton, NJspots Patron, started an amazing project in Flemington in the wake of New Jersey’s stay-at-home order due to COVID-19.

Read more about his porch portraits project, Flemington from a Distance, and how you can get involved!

DAVE NORTON

"I knew I would lose some followers who were not local and had no interest in such a hyper local account of how one town is managing the pandemic, but that was a wildly unimportant consequence."

Who are you and where are you from?

I am Dave Norton (@drnorton) and my project, Flemington from a Distance, is on @historicflemington

Did your project start from an idea you had in quarantine?

Yes. I mean, the idea for porch portraits is already pretty much public domain but I put a slight spin on it with the decision to do it for donations to my local hospital’s COVID-19 support fund. And 100% of donations go to them. This is not a payday for me.

How did your project get started? Where did the idea come from?

I got it started by asking three neighbor friends who I was pretty sure would say yes (they did!). I did the exact same thing for them that I would end up doing for everyone. A quick portrait and a write-up based mostly off of a questionnaire and our conversation at their home. I try to get as close to the 2200 character limit for every interview.

Below is an example interview. Check out @historicflemington for more!

"Tim and Marissa are familiar faces to anyone who has spent even just a little time in Flemington. As the innkeepers of the Main Street Manor Bed & Breakfast Inn, they are the go-to spot for refined lodging in the borough, and currently the go-to spot for awesomely detailed and day-brighteningly fun cooking classes held live on Facebook weekdays at 1pm. Today’s strata looked absolutely delectable!"

How does it fit in with your other projects?

My main project is documenting architecture (and some history) in Flemington. Now I am documenting the people and their current stories. It was a super logical transition in my mind. I really lost interest in pretending nothing was going on in my community either.

I have been slowly stepping into local politics and with every passing month feel the desire to get more involved. Getting to know my neighbors and tell their stories to others seemed like a good use of my time, built-in network (from the account) and photography.

I knew I would lose some followers who were not local and had no interest in such a hyper local account of how one town is managing the pandemic, but that was a wildly unimportant consequence.

Who does the project benefit?

The Hunterdon Healthcare COVID-19 Support Fund.

From their site: “Donations will support individuals and families negatively affected by COVID-19, including Hunterdon Healthcare employees. Funds will be used to provide food and other basic needs to those currently struggling as well as assist Hunterdon Healthcare’s efforts to respond to the Coronavirus disease.”

Will you continue after quarantine? What is the future of the project?

I am not sure. At all. I just want to raise some more money and tell some more stories. We just surpassed my initial goal of $2,500 raised. I had been suggesting a $20+ contribution for a portrait but have now raised that to $40+ with the expectation that I would receive less inquiries. So far this has proven to be correct.

Donation link here!

I have a 16 month old daughter at home and my wife has had to do a lot of single parenting since this project began. I would love to keep telling stories and meeting neighbors but there’s a logical limit to this.

"Christine and Mike welcomed their first child four weeks ago today. "Baby Luke definitely keeps us busy & sane! The days fly by with a newborn baby, but the slowness of every other part of life has allowed us to really soak in and appreciate every little moment we have with him."

Read Dave’s interview with TAPinto Flemington for more about his project. Donate here!

To be photographed by Norton and participate in the project, email drnorton@gmail.com. Those interested can also search for Dave Norton on Facebook.

Catch up with Dave with his Photographer Feature.

“Spotlight” is an ongoing segment featuring our Patrons and their quarantine projects. Contact editor Abbey Dufoe for more information.

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