Front Porch Photos Helping Families Reconnect with Friends, Neighbors & Community

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Barrington area photographers are beginning to get back to business as of May 1st as the state of Illinois starts to ease some of the stay-at-home restrictions impacting how they operate. Photographers will now be free to work, though from a distance. That means outdoor photography and even “front porch sessions” will be permitted to help families document this time at home.

We know several local photographers who are breathing a sigh of relief as this will start the flow of income that’s come to a halt over the past six weeks. It’s also an exciting opportunity for those interested in capturing a family photo to record and remember this unprecedented time in their lives.

Photo by Emily Hernandez

To celebrate, we’re kicking off something new called #FrontPorchProject60010, a Barrington area version of the front porch projects helping people stay connected during this time of isolation in communities across the country. Mindful Waste co-founder, Renee Blue is sharing our first front porch photo and local photographer, Emily Hernandez is offering two Front Porch Mini Sessions as prizes for two participants. All who share a front porch photo with us during the month of May have a chance to win! Our goal is to support local photographers while offering a way to reconnect with each other from the confines of home. We invite you to join us in sharing your own photos with the hashtag #FrontPorchProject60010 on Instagram or via our contest entry form below. We’ll add all photos to a special album to remember this time here at

Renee took our first front porch photo with her husband, Matt, and two sons in early April as they adjusted to our socially distant life. She says the idea came to her from a friend. Here’s why Renee is sharing her own version, in her own words…


by Renee Blue, Co-founder of Mindful Waste

My friend from elementary school, Tricia Wajda, posted a photo of her family on their front porch in Massachusetts. One kiddo was wearing a unicorn robe and her husband was dirty from yard work. It captured a beautiful, unplanned moment of real life. I loved seeing their smiling faces, and it made me realize how much I’m missing seeing everyone around town. Not just friends – though I miss them dearly – but all the familiar faces that make up our daily lives.

I imagine many of you are feeling the same way, so I thought it would be great to create a way to “see” everyone here. My hope is that it will become a new way for us to connect and share the ways we’re getting through this challenging time.

All in all, our family is managing just fine during this time of social distancing. We have up and down days (let’s be honest, hours), which I’m sure is true for many. While we are so appreciative of the district 220 teachers’ efforts in translating their lessons to online learning – no mean feat – we’re missing the structure of school. Technology is proving to be both a blessing and a curse. We’re all finding our rhythm, and it’s a little different each day.

In our family photo, we chose to share some of our passions. When he’s not working or out in the woods building a mountain bike course with our boys, my husband, Matt, goes for long solo rides and works on getting his road bikes into tip-top shape. My older son plays lacrosse, longboards and is building a new website. My younger son mountain bikes, longboards, and helps me make lemonade out of these lemons! When I’m not cooking, cleaning or fitting in a bit of work for Mindful Waste, I’m working on our garden and composting projects. Our labradoodle, Lulu, loves all of the snuggles, playtime and walks – she is one tired pup at the end of the day.

While I’m grateful for this time with my family, I am of course deeply saddened by the impact of COVID-19. I have to make a concerted effort every day to balance the fear and uncertainty with gratitude. A positive mindset is certainly key to getting through this, and I am so hopeful that, on the other side of this crisis, we will emerge as a more connected and mindful society.

Every day, I’m humbled by stories of those who spend their days in service while we are safe at home. To those who are providing meals for those in need, keeping our community safe, caring for those who are ill, teaching our children, restocking our grocery store shelves and delivering our packages: we would absolutely fall apart without you. You are making incredible contributions and sacrifices on a daily basis, and we’re forever in your debt.

I can’t wait to see photos of families from our community! If you’re able, please support one of our many amazing local photographers. If that’s not a possibility, though, don’t let it deter you! If I can set up a photo, truly anyone can. I used a jam jar to balance my phone on top of our grill – not pretty, but it worked (aside from my sweater getting stuck in our planter). Get creative and let’s see it, Barrington! We hope to see your smiling faces soon.

Thank you for your thoughts, Renee. We love your photo and can’t wait to share others!

Emily Hernandez is one of several local photographers who have been scheduling front porch photo sessions for the weeks ahead. Not only will Emily be sharing some of her images with us, she’s offering two prizes to two families who share photos with us during the month of May. All who share their own family’s front porch photos will be entered into a drawing at the end of the month. We’ll announce our two randomly selected winners on Monday, June 1st!

Click here to submit your family’s front porch photo or add #FrontPorchProject60010 to your Instagram captions for a chance to win a Front Porch Mini Session with Emily Hernandez which includes the session with Emily plus 2-3 edited images in a full resolution downloadable format. Perfect for commemorating this unusual time in our lives! You are welcome to use your front porch, back yard, anywhere on your property that you’d prefer.

The Front Porch Mini Sessions are one of several options Emily is now offering. She is excited to also capture individual images of each child so they have their moment to shine, too, along with portraits of this year’s graduates of all ages. For more information from Emily about pricing, scheduling and preparing for your front porch photos, email Thank you for taking the time to share and we can’t wait to see your family’s pictures! Stay tuned throughout the month as we share entries in our #FrontPorchProject60010 right here at

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