Local photographer LeeAnn B. Stephan has found an interesting way to turn lemons into lemonade.

Photography is usually centered around events, gatherings—or at a minimum—one-on-one interaction within fairly close proximity. While business for LeeAnn may have slowed down, she has managed to stay busy with something that started out as a passion project but has quickly turned into a somewhat impromptu visual documentation of how our locals are handling the isolation, uncertainty, abrupt routine changes, and overall life challenges that have come with the coronavirus pandemic.

I was fortunate enough to be included in her project—dubbed “porchraits” early on considering that most of the photos were literally taken on people’s porches—but this thing has gone from LeeAnn simply checking in on friends to well over a hundred photos that are truly beginning to formulate quite the narrative.

When LeeAnn delivered my photos, the first thing I noticed was my entire pandemic story clearly written on my face. I looked exhausted, and even behind my smile, I could see myself wearing the effects of this unprecedented pandemic. I told myself that I couldn’t be alone, so I decided to dig back through previous “porchraits,” and what I saw were many other visuals that told the same story of wistfulness, stoicism, and resolve.

The more I dug, the more I realized how important her work was as a creative in such a dark time. Another thing that really struck a note for me was the variety in homes, lifestyles, demographics, and family structures captured in each shot.

I was also really curious to hear LeeAnn's personal perspective on these shots, so I called her up and had her go into detail about each photo, one by one. As I listened, I could hear the happiness in her voice, recalling each day, and the unique situations associated with the pictures. I could tell that she was getting just as much joy as she was providing for a community that has otherwise been isolated for weeks.

LeeAnn has seen an outpouring of gratitude from her subjects and deservingly so. Ultimately, I would love to see these “porchraits” published as a book seeing that she’s currently archiving a moment in history that will be talked about for decades to come.

Keep up with LeeAnn’s project here, and I hope you enjoy the photos I hand selected below.

41 “Porchraits” That Perfectly Document Our Lafayette Locals While They Shelter In Place

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