Chris Woodard, NJspots Patron, started an amazing project in Jersey City in the wake of New Jersey’s stay-at-home order due to COVID-19.
Read more about his porch portraits project, JC Stoops Photo Project, and how you can get involved!
Who are you and where are you from?
Did your project start from an idea you had in quarantine?
The idea for this project (#TheFrontStepsProject) started in Needham, Massachussets by @carasoulia and @findingforty who created @thefrontstepsproject to bring communities together in a time of isolation. The idea was to take portraits of families on their porches from a safe social distance and collect donations to go towards a local charity.
They encouraged and inspired hundreds of photographers all over the country and world to do similar projects and most of them help raise money for their local communities in this time of need. They have been featured in national news stories and other media in recent weeks.
How did your project get started? Where did the idea come from?
I first saw the idea forwarded from a friend in Columbus who participated with a local photographer, @cbusfrontstepsproject. I am lucky in that I have a full time job in online grocery so I had been looking for a way to give back.
With her approval, I borrowed the basic framework of the project, made some tweaks to align with my goals and the Jersey City area, got a sign up form on Google Docs, found a great org to donate to and set up a GoFundMe.
Thanks to these technologies I was up and running in under 24 hours and starting to recruit friends and neighbors to get it going.
Below is an example post. Check out @jcstoopsphotoproject for more!
How does it fit in with your other projects?
This is actually really different for me. I like to shoot all sorts of photography including street photography, cityscapes, music, events, and landscape, but posed portraits is an area I had no experience in aside from friends and family. It is definitely something new for me, which I really like and I am learning as fast as I can to make sure I get people as good a product as possible.
Who does the project benefit? Please explain.
100 percent of the money raised of the suggested donation of $30 goes to Hudson County Hunger Project, who is partnering with restaurants to help feed the homeless, shut in seniors and others in need during this difficult time.
Also, musicians, healthcare workers and other essential workers get their photo taken for free.
Will you continue after quarantine? What is the future of the project?
I haven’t really been able to think of the future of this project yet. The few hours a week that I am not working on my full time job, I am balancing quality time with my family and trying to get out to do shoots, edit, and post. It looks like we could be in this situation for many weeks, if not months, so right now I am just trying to take it one day at at time.
I am also trying to be very thoughtful about being out as little as possible and ensuring the safety of everyone involved, including my family. I reached out personally to the Mayor of Jersey City to ensure that it was okay to continue doing this and he gave me the green light. However, I will pause the project if Jersey City’s leadership prefers or if I or the community become too uncomfortable to continue. That would create a backlog potentially so this project may continue even after quarantine if I need that time to get to everyone.
It might actually be fun to do this when not wearing a mask, constantly sanitizing and standing 10 feet or more away. I suspect once this is over people will be home much less though. 🙂
To be photographed by Woodard and participate in the project, reach out to him on Instagram.
“Spotlight” is an ongoing segment featuring our Patrons and their quarantine projects. Contact editor Abbey Dufoe for more information.