Otto introduces Front Porch Project in Spink County
By Shiloh Appel
A new movement of photographing families on their front steps during quarantine has emerged in the U.S. The Front Steps Project was launched on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, by Cara Soulia and Kristen Collins of Needham, Massachusetts. The goal of the movement was to document this time of quarantine in the lives of families living through it, and raise money for charities while doing so. Instead of receiving payment for the photographs, the founders asked families to donate to their local charity.
Soon, the idea spread across the United States and took different forms. Some photographers are taking payment, others aren’t. In Spink County, Ashlyn Otto, a sophomore at Northern State University, has taken her own initiative to document the lives of local families.
“I am just home with everything that has been going on, and I have been taking online classes. I’ve always enjoyed doing photography, but it is just a hobby of mine,” said Otto. “I have seen a lot of the professional photographers that I follow [on social media] doing it. A lot of them were doing it, but charging in their communities, so I decided to do it for free as something fun and positive for the families in Redfield and Tulare.”
Otto shared her idea on Facebook and her mother, Jen Otto, spread the word.
“I have always enjoyed taking pictures and growing that way: teaching myself how to edit and how to take them better,” said Otto. “The project, I guess, is a fun way for me to show people that that is something I am interested in. I just thought it was really cool that I could make it easy for them by going to their house to take the pictures so they didn’t have to leave.”
Otto’s idea took off, and she took 20 separate family photos in a single weekend; 15 on Saturday and five on Sunday. Some families pulled out props and outfits for funny photos, others took more serious ones. Some even featured the highly coveted rolls of toilet paper and Lysol spray that have become symbols of the times.
Without a limit on how many photos she will take, Otto asks families to contact her through Facebook messenger or call her at 1 (605) 450-1526 to set up a day and time for family photos.
“I just have people here and there reaching out to me. I think eventually it will die down, but right now I am enjoying it,” said Otto.