Front Porch Project: Local photographer captures happy memories during trying times

“It gives you something positive to look back on,” Akilah Biederman said about her new family portrait

A Dayton photographer is using her talents to help isolated families create happy memories during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jamie Cox, the owner of J Renee Creations Photography, and photographers across the country are participating in the “Front Porch Project” – taking portraits of families on their front porches from a safe distance away.

“I think everybody right now is feeling so panicked and uncomfortable,” said Cox, who was inspired to participate in the project by a Boston-area photographer.

“It’s easy for people like me who serve the public to be a little bit depressed when we can’t do what we’re used to doing. I haven’t done much photography over the last few weeks and I feel the impact of not being able to do what I love.”

Cox, who uses telephoto lenses to stay a safe distance from her subjects, holds a 10-minute photo session with families posing on their porches. She later emails them 10 photographs.

Normally, Cox would charge $200 for a portrait session at her Dayton studio, but lowered her price to $30 and donates $5 to a local charity. During the pandemic, when extra money may be tight for families, she didn’t want price to be a deterrent.

Akilah and Joe Biederman and their daughters, Eshe, 4, and Amina, 2, recently stepped onto their porch for a photo session with Cox.

The portraits capture the smiling family framed by their porch and the girls in a beloved playhouse.

“It gives you something positive to look back on,” Akilah Biederman said. “It reminds you that you don’t know the next time you could get a family photo or when everybody’s going to be able to just be together.”

Biederman, who is working from home, said despite the impact of the virus, she treasures this time with her family and the portraits.

“It will remind me of evening walks we took and spending time on our porch talking to our neighbors and trying to find a connection wherever you can.”

Cox said her love of photography began while capturing images of friends at recess as a youngster. Decades of annual portraits taken with her parents and family are treasured memories today.

“I think it’s important to remember to enjoy the time we do have together,” Cox said. “Pictures hold stories. I think we just need to remember that some good things can come out of the times that are terrible for us.”

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