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Two area photographers curating their own ‘porch portrait’ series

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Eli Hackett, a professional engineer and an amateur photographer, and Jess Kamens, a professional photographer, are both doing their take on social distancing safe “porch portraits.” For both of them, it’s about capturing people in the moment.

There are possibly thousands of people taking as many photos of the harrowing emptiness of today’s life:

But Hackett and Kames want to capture the people who might be missing in those photos.

“Just seeing their faces light up from something that’s a little unusual,” he said. “Everybody has that old film photo of their grandparents standing in front of a doorstep… It’s unceremonious, but it’s the photo you have. It’s something everyone can relate to.”

“I hope to give them a physical, tangible momento of who was in their house,” he said, referencing the historical nature of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

“It seems to be cheering people up,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much joy it would bring me, how happy people were, and to receive that picture.”

“Documentary photography is in my blood, and this is a moment that needs to be documented,” she said.

Their approaches vary, too. Hackett will go on a weekend run after people reach out to him on Instagram for a photo. It’s all done from a socially safe distance. He’ll take a photo with his film camera, and then post a cell photo onto his Instagram story. He admits he’s a little new to film, but he enjoys the challenge.

“The tactile experience of using the camera itself, winding the film.” he said. “And the pressure to pick your shots beforehand, and not taking a bunch and bank on one of coming out well.”

Since he doesn’t have a dark room at home, and wants to get these done properly, so he’ll bring them to an experienced processor, “when this is over.”

Here are some of Hackett’s cell photos:

Kamens however, is a professional photographer. She does personal photos and weddings, but most of work is working with businesses. Finding herself out of work — and looking to scratch an itch for documentary photography — she started taking appointments.

They’ve ranged from more candid shots, to scheduled shoots, to even capturing a young boy’s birthday party.

Soon, she had hundreds of people wanting a photo, and needed to prioritize her time.

“I’m plugging in addresses on a map to see if I can get a cluster, be there for an hour,” she said. “Drive around, stick my camera out my window….”

She’s doing it free of charge, and gives the photos to the family as quickly as she can.

Here are some of Kamens’ photos:

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