By Debbie Adams
Vinton photographer Paula Greenway’s slogan in advertising her PG Photography is “Life has moments…I would love to capture yours.” Never has that been truer than now during this extraordinary time of COVID-19 quarantine. She has found a way to document “this moment in history” for families, friends, and neighbors.
“I was scrolling through Facebook one day and I came across a project a photographer in Boston was doing—Cara Soulia Photography,” said Greenway.
Soulia says on her website that “as a photographer I typically spend several hours each week capturing images of families in times of joy, babies on the way, newborns, siblings, grandparents, and more. Those times of joy are happening in homes right now, but I can’t be there to capture them.” She came up with the idea of taking quick “Front Step Portraits” of residents in her town of Needham, Mass., “from a distance.”
Greenway was inspired to take on the project locally, “bringing people together when we might feel isolated.”
“Our world is changing day by day,” Greenway said. “We are experiencing anxiety, despair, depression, and more. We are all in this together.”
Greenway sent a message to her Facebook followers asking if any would be interested in documenting these unsettling, unprecedented, and memorable days, saying “it’s not a dress up, picture perfect photo. It is about capturing a moment in time. Wear your PJ’s, dress up, it doesn’t matter.
“Five minutes on your front porch or in your yard with no close contact,” Greenway suggested. “I can shoot you from super far away with my big lens, no charge to you.
“I just ask that you either make a donation to a cause of your choice or support a small business, show kindness, spread joy, check on a neighbor—you get the idea—and post with the hashtag #frontstepsproject.”
Greenway promised to work out the logistics for those who messaged her back. She also asked for them to tag their neighbors who may be interested—”it would be a fun project to do a bunch of families from the same block during the same time frame.”
“To date I have done over 80 families in Vinton, Salem, Roanoke, Blacksburg, Radford, Blue Ridge, Troutville, and Daleville,” Greenway said. “I am gifting the families I photograph a small gallery of their images to print or keep as they choose. I have encouraged people to pay it forward–help their neighbors, buy gift cards at local businesses now to be used when things open back up; and there is a t-shirt printer who is printing t-shirts from local businesses and selling them. When you order a t-shirt for $20, $10 goes back to that small business so I posted a link to that and I have a t-shirt on there as well.”
That online t-shirt store was “created to give local small businesses the much-needed support they need right now” is the message from King Screen and #RoanokeStrong. “When you order a shirt, you are not only supporting that business but a local print shop as well.”
“When I started my #Frontstepsproject, I hoped it would be a way to spread kindness during this crisis,” Greenway said. “But it ended up blessing me tenfold. I have met some wonderful people doing their best to make the most of this crazy time. I have also been able to capture some images and moments I will never forget–they have touched my heart forever.
“I have photographed a man terminally ill with cancer with his family–a dog and his humans. Soon I will be posting a surprise proposal and an adoption. God has placed me in some incredibly emotional moments.”
Visit Greenway’s Facebook page to see the family memories Greenway has preserved at https://www.facebook.com/PGPhotoGraphy49.