From commemorations of anniversaries, new babies, Highland Park High School’s socially distant prom celebration, or just outdoor family time, Erin Schreyer has been capturing how her neighbors have been spending quarantine in photos.
The local life coach and blogger, originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, saw a story on the news at the beginning of shelter-in-place orders about a photographer in Colorado who was taking front porch photos of families to document this unique time in history and became inspired to start the “Front Porch Project.” She decided to take it a step further by asking the families to donate to their favorite nonprofit organization instead of paying a fee.
“I enjoyed helping people feel connected to their neighbors, as well as sharing smiles and hope in a really challenging and isolating time,” Schreyer said. “People shared with me that they poured their morning coffee and sat down each morning to see whose photos were taken each day. It helped us all to feel connected, even though we couldn’t be together.”
She put the word out to a neighborhood email group and, after taking photos of the five families that originally responded, she shared them on Facebook with short narratives and a shout-out to the nonprofits they chose.
From there, the project rapidly expanded across the Park Cities. Over the span of a few weeks, she photographed 399 families, and collected $153,000 for 188 nonprofits.
“I love the neighborhood feel of the Park Cities. It truly is so ‘neighborly.’ People are caring, supportive and helpful, particularly in times of need,” Schreyer said.
She’s also launched the “Perspective Project” this summer, which is “about leaning in, listening to, and learning from Black perspectives.”
She was selected as University Park’s Citizen of the Year award this year.
“It’s such an honor, and it still seems a little surreal,” Schreyer said of the award. “I said it before, and I’ll say it again…I wish the award to be given to the whole neighborhood. I don’t need the spotlight, especially since this was truly a massive effort that included so many people.”
People Newspapers: What do you feel is your biggest success?
Erin Schreyer: I’m not sure I define success in the same way others might. I’m just grateful to be alive, to have my health, my family and opportunities every day to make a difference. I love Jesus and any time I can give a glimpse of Him to others is a huge success in my book!
PN: What sparked your interest in photography?
ES: I’ve always been interested in photography. My dad was a photographer, and I’ve been around it since I was a teen.
PN: What makes a great photo?
ES: Clarity, light and composition, but more than that, a great photo evokes something from the viewer.
PN: What’s a fun fact about you?
ES: I won “Funniest Laugh” in the school yearbook my Senior year. I still have a recognizable, loud laugh. I’m a joy junkie!