By Kendra Hennis
Inspired by photographer Cara Soulia and The Front Step Project, Tuscola photographer Rachel Ray knew just the way she could help out and bring joy to families amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The way it works is Ray stays more than 10 feet back and photographs the families on their doorsteps using long lense. She asks the families to not approach her and she does the same.
Ray said she joined The Front Step Project because “(she) wanted to join in on giving back to the community so I posted on Facebook and got a humongous response. This is a unique and weird time in our history and I really think we should mark that with a photo of the people that we spent it with. It’s also really great to spread some happiness and hope to everyone.”
Ray said her response to this has been wonderful. She said “A lot of people have said just thank you for doing this, thank you for brightening our day, thank you for giving me a reason to feel human for a little bit (by putting nice clothes on, makeup, and doing their hair). Some people have mentioned putting a book together after this is over of the whole project. It’s been wonderful to see everyone smiling and having fun, from 10-15 feet away of course.”
Her favorite family shoot so far was Dena, Nick, and Hannah Kidwell. She laughed and said that “they were all in their pajamas. Dena had a coffee mug, Nick had a beer, and Hannah had her iPad. Then, they had Lysol spray, Clorox wipes, and a hair color kit.”
Ray took pictures out at the Forest Glen subdivision early this week. She said so far she photographed 75 families. She is not sure about how many more families she will photograph, but encourages people to check out her Facebook page, Rachel Ray Photography, for more information about the project.
Ray is not accepting payment for taking photos and instead asks families to give back to the community. She said “I am asking all people involved to pay it forward by supporting our local businesses or making donations. All of our local businesses are struggling and I would love it if their donation was even to buy a bouquet of flowers, pizza, a burger, or even a box of turtles. It doesn’t even have to be a money donation at all, even just donating material for masks or to places like the Warrior Store or SAMS Food Pantry.”