Stay at Home – The Family Portrait

By Shelley Galasso Bonanno/Photography by Erin Portell

Photographers across the globe have been documenting families sheltering at home during the coronavirus pandemic in a cause identified as the, “Porch Project.” The Porch Project has united communities, built resilience and allowed individuals to remain emotionally connected despite social distancing. A local Macomb County photographer, Erin Portell, founder of the donation-based Southeast Michigan Porch Project, is one of those photographers chronicling this unprecedented time in history.

Through this project, she schedules appointments and travels to homes to take portraits – or porchraits – of families – from at least six feet away – in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. So far, she has photographed more than 25 families across Macomb County, including many essential workers such as nurses and other frontline responders. She has captured families in various poses, depicting homelife during the shelter in place orders. Families are photographed on their front porches, many holding handmade signs and adding personalized mementos. “It’s extremely important to document this time we’re living through, as it is totally unprecedented. I’m a firm believer in documenting life events and saw this as a great way to give back as well,” noted Portell. While Portell donates her services, she requests a small donation for the 15-minute photography session. Proceeds raised have been used to purchase meals and snacks for a variety of frontline workers employed by local fire departments, hospitals, pharmacies, and grocery stores. “Our family is very blessed,” said Portell. “It’s always been important for us to give back and I thought this was an amazing way to give back to the frontline workers.” Photographs can be a type of time capsule, capturing and preserving moments in time for years to come. The Porch Project has found global appeal as a way for many communities to come together. It highlights not only the resilience of the human spirit but how people remain connected despite practicing social distancing. By focusing on our similarities, it reminds us that even in difficult times, we are all #InThisTogether. Portell plans to continue taking photos to finish up her list of families and will go back to being a portrait photographer once this settles down. To see more photos from the southeast Michigan porch project or to get your photo taken visit the Facebook page –

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