After noticing a low mood settling over Greenfield after Ohio’s stay-at-home order began, photographer Kensly Jett decided to document life during the lockdown.
A few weeks after the stay-at-home order started, Jett began what she calls her Front Porch Project. For the project, families in and nearby Greenfield set up scenes that captured what the lockdown was like for their family, and Jett photographed them at no charge.
“I feel like this time has to be documented. Nothing like this has ever happened in our generation, and as a photographer, it’s my job to document that,” Jett said. “I encouraged them to gather things they’ve been doing since the quarantine started. Toilet paper and Clorox wipes are in almost every single image. I think that’s very important because those are the things we ran out of, and in 20 years from now, if those weren’t in these images, are we really going to remember when we were stuck inside and couldn’t find toilet paper, or when we played that certain game a thousand times, and it never got boring? It’s just the simple things, and a picture captures it all. It’s almost like a time capsule.”
Jett was inspired by similar projects her photographer friends and photographers in other states started. As she watched the response they received, Jett thought, “Our community needs this.”
For the sessions, Jett drove to each family’s home and snapped pictures from a safe distance, usually from her car. Because many of the families she photographed were already clients she’d worked with for years, Jett said the hardest part of the project was not being able to hug the families and kids before she left.
“It was more than just a picture. It was the kids gathering the things they’d been working on or even the college students who had been working on projects for school. We had a few builders working on outside projects,” Jett said. “Everybody seemed to get so creative with them, and it made it fun to capture everyone’s different families and different scenarios.”
Not only did the project give families something else to focus on as they brainstormed ideas and prepared props for their portraits, but Jett said the project also gave them something to look forward to. For Jett and the families she photographed, Jett said the project was almost a form of therapy.
“As the virus began to spread, the more I saw the depression hit around our area, the kids, their parents, myself because I wasn’t in the studio shooting and I wasn’t able to be outside when it started to get nice out,” Jett said. “I myself struggle with depression, and I’m in a group with other local moms who were having the same issues, and they didn’t really know what to do with themselves. It was easy for me to say, ‘What can I do?’”
In the end, Jett photographed 53 Greenfield families for her Front Porch Project.
Jett’s project may have concluded, but she plans to reopen for outdoor sessions on June 1. By mid-June, she hopes to be back in the studio, though she said there will be restrictions to keep herself and those she photographs safe.
Jett can be reached through her Facebook page, “Kensly Jett Photography,” by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 937-205-3740.
All portraits that Jett took as part of her Front Porch Project can be viewed on her Facebook page.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.