Before the Virginia stay-at-home order was put in place in late March, Leesburg resident Natriya Rampey stumbled upon a photo of a family in New England sitting happily on their front steps. Despite the global pandemic unfolding beyond the yard ahead of them, that family was able to showcase a little positivity, which stuck with Rampey.
From a safe distance of more than 10 feet away, Rampey takes pictures of local families holding signs that display any message of their choosing, including inspiring quotes and humorous quips alike. Plus, she transforms them all to black and white, symbolic of a simpler time.
Here, Rampey shares how the project is impacting the local community.
How many families have you photographed so far?
I’ve photographed approximately 70 porches and homes so far, starting in Leesburg and Ashburn, but have been to different towns in Northern Virginia as well.
Talk to me about the Facebook group you started, Porch Photography: In It Together.
I started this group to hopefully let everyone see that we are in fact “in it together.” I wanted to create unity by keeping the images black and white and add a twist by asking everyone to make a positive, heartfelt, thankful or humorous sign so that when others look at the images, they would know they aren’t alone in this.
Why do you think it’s important to photograph local residents right now during this unsettling time?
It’s important to see friends, family, neighbors and strangers in these photographs because often we get engrossed with what’s going on with ourselves and in our homes, all trying to cope with this unique situation. I think it is a little reminder that there are so many of us across our nation and throughout the world who are in very similar boats.
Are you making a profit from the photographs?
No, I am not profiting at all, I am doing it free of charge. However, I am collecting monetary donations for those who would like to donate and I am giving it to various local Northern Virginia food pantries. So far, as a community we have raised a little over $1,500 in total, allowing me to give $500 each to help fund three separate food banks.
What is the most unique portrait you have taken so far?
I have to say it’s of this one really amazing family, it’s like the Brady Bunch but with all boys ranging in age from high school freshmen to college students. I have three boys of my own and can’t imagine feeding six! They were so much fun to photograph and their mother, Patty, said it’s like a frat house at times due to the current situation.
While Rampey initially stopped photographing families following Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order on March 30, she received confirmation from the governor’s office on Friday, April 10 that, so long as she complies with social distance guidelines, she can continue the project.
Below, find examples of Rampey’s most recent work, depicting several families of Northern Virginia.
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