Porch-raits: Photographer captures area residents from a distance

Gary Hillmer and Jamie Blanchard, along with their dog, Franco, are photographed in front of their rural Wellsburg home by Doni Lang, who has started taking “porch-traits” of families in the area. (Contributed photo by Lang Accent Photography)
Seth McDuffee
Eclipse News-Review

Doni Lang isn't letting social distancing guidelines get in the way of a passion project.

In addition to working full time as the bookkeeper at an HVAC company in Grundy Center, she is the co-director of events for the city, shares ownership of a home inspection business with her husband, and somehow finds the energy to run Lang Accent Photography, a studio based in Grundy Center.

What began as an idea to photograph 100 subjects grew into something much bigger.

Lang heard that a few photographers on the East coast had been participating in something called the “Front Porch Project”, and was inspired.

The project highlights the lives of Americans living under social distancing and self-isolation due to the coronavirus. The subjects stand on their front porches or stoops, and the photographers, like Lang, snap the pictures from a safe distance. Everything is done free of charge, and is more of a service for morale.

Lang posted about it on her business’ Facebook page, and received lots of interest immediately.

“We didn’t expect the response,” Lang said, “…it just sort of snowballed from there.”

Requests from Grundy, Butler and Black Hawk counties quickly filled her appointment calendar.

“Monday night, we fit in 16 families,” she said, “… I set up a ladder in the street to take the pictures. We were (at each home) for maybe five minutes, and then it was off to the next house.”

Land said she visited families in Grundy Center and the Waterloo – Cedar Falls area this week, and had already booked appointments in Aplington, Parkersburg, Wellsburg, and Reinbeck over the weekend. It’s a very full schedule, but Lang thinks it’s worth it.

“Everyone’s feeling a little on edge being cooped up,” she said, “so they can get dressed up, a have a little bit of fun.”

But for Lang, it’s more than just fun. She said there was an anonymous quote that really spoke as to the reason behind the entire project: "If you have the power to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that."


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