Portraits in a Pandemic: The Front Porch Project

A man, four young girls and a woman leaning over a fence

From an unexpected global event came a beautiful opportunity to capture people in a simple yet significant way. Following the success of similar pandemic projects at home and overseas, photographer Kirsty Fikkers embarked on #thefrontporchproject along the Coffs Coast. At a time when separation and isolation were required, Kirsty found a way to connect with her community. The portraits will be exhibited at Coffs Central from June 4.  

A woman holding a little boy standing next to a man holding a Persian cat

Kirsty Fikkers’ love of photography developed in the darkroom at high school. She studied the craft at TAFE before taking a different path at university. But after shooting a friend’s wedding, she knew it was time to return to her true passion. Kirsty moved from Lismore to Coffs Harbour where she worked with established photographers before branching out on her own in 2014. 

Creativity in the Time of COVID

When COVID-19 hit, Kirsty’s wedding and family portraiture work dried up. Her husband continued in his job, but she was at home, desperately looking for a creative outlet. Kirsty noticed that a number of US photographers had begun taking photos of families who were isolating at home. The photographer stood on the street and snapped the families standing on their front porches. Kirsty thought it would be nice to do something similar in Coffs. 

“I asked some friends and put it on social media, and it just grew from there,” she explains. “I ended up photographing more than 70 families!” 

A young boy stands next to a woman holding a pet cat

Connection in Isolation 

At a time when separation and isolation were required, the project allowed Kirsty to connect with her community. People expressed how nice it was to see someone and chat after being cooped up at home for days at a time. Others shared their personal struggles and described what they were going through. The portrait sessions also provided an opportunity for families to have some fun. One couple celebrated their anniversary by having Kirsty photograph them in their wedding attire. Another family wore bunny ears and arranged to be photographed mid Easter egg hunt. 

An Historical Moment Captured

At the time, Kirsty asked participants to write down their feelings about COVID-19 and describe what they were experiencing. The quotes will be placed alongside the portraits when they are exhibited at Coffs Central from June 4. She says it will be very interesting to see the families’ reactions when they re-read what they wrote. 

“We’re a year on now so the exhibition is a really nice way to celebrate the fact that we got through a difficult time,” Kirsty says. “The portraits capture a moment in our recent history and show what we went through.”

Portraits in a Pandemic: The Front Porch Project

The Front Porch Project will be exhibited at Level 1, Coffs Central – opposite endota spa. The exhibition opens June 4 and runs for six weeks.