Photographer brings smiles to community

Project involves photographing people on front steps of their Powell River homes

Powell River photographer Leah Laurie really gets the picture when it comes to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She has become a participant in #thefrontstepsproject, where photographers are photographing people in front of their houses to help uplift people in their communities.

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“I put in out there on my Facebook page, just asking if people would be interested, and I had an overwhelming response to the idea,” said Laurie. “The project would be a way to document this, because it will be an historic moment in time somewhere down the road. It also gives people a reason to get their hair brushed and their teeth brushed and out of their pajamas for five minutes, and as one lady said yesterday, a reason to put makeup on.

“It’s giving people a purpose, if it’s for five minutes only, and puts a smile on their face.”

Laurie said participants get a family picture out of the deal and she’s not charging anybody for them.

‘It’s just done out of the fact that I have to stay busy,” said Laurie. “I shut my studio down a week ago and I’ve been going stir-crazy ever since. I need something to do and I need something that also helps to uplift as much as I can.”

She didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize anyone’s safety. She’s a believer that the more people comply with regulations, the better everybody we will be. She said that from a safe position, with a long lens, she takes the photographs while maintaining social distance.

She corresponds with prospective photographic subjects by email. She puts her location out on her Facebook page, indicating she will be in a specific area the next day. She gets a bunch of emails and picks the first few.

“I was planning on doing two a day but I did 10 this morning,” said Laurie. “I just want to do it as long as it is safe to do it.”

Families that are photographed receive one digital image from the photoshoot, emailed to them, and the results are posted online on her Facebook page with the hashtag thefrontstepsproject.

She said the response has been enthusiastic and people are thanking her. She said she can’t take credit for the project, as it was the idea of other photographers that she has adapted to Powell River.

“I saw it from somewhere else and I thought, I’m jumping on that bandwagon because I think it’s something that we can do safely, and it’s going to hopefully uplift spirits and make people happy for five minutes,” said Laurie. “If that’s all it does my job here is done.”

Laurie, as of March 23, had been photographing on the front steps for two days. She said she will do it as long as it’s safe to do so, and people still want it done.”

She said she’s had so many smiles. She said it is providing a heartwarming sense of community.

“We have to be mindful of what’s going on right now but I think that we also have to maintain our mental health,” said Laurie. “My subjects are doing as much for me as I’m doing for them.”

Copyright © Powell River Peak

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