Creative Spotlight: The Front Steps Project with Renee Gage
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Friday, March 27, 2020
By Jeremy H
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While most of the world goes on lockdown, creative people are finding solutions on giving back to their communities and still being able to show their skills. One of these people is Renée C. Gage of Renée Gage Photography located in Alexandria, Virginia. She recently heard about The Front Steps Project, which was started by a photographer in Massachusetts, as a plan to give back to families who are now in 'stay at home' order locations.

The Front Steps Project is a way to get family members or those who are stuck indoors to come out to their front door for a photo shoot, which each person stays the safe amount of space away from one another. It's a way to show bonds with those who can't leave their home but a way to remember this time together.

When we learned about this project, we were inspired to talk about it and let you know more about Renée's efforts.

What made you excited about this project?

Renée: I have done fundraisers and projects in every place that we have called home.

Throughout her life, she has moved a lot due to her husband being in the military, so she has been a part of many different types of communities.

Renée: It is so fun, exciting and feels so natural to give back and be a part of our communities, they are all homes to us!  Giving back to our local community, the military, or sometimes I meet a family that just feels like the right fit for something just a little bit more out of the box.  This brings me great joy. 

She was doing something like this in the fall but decided to join the project with a twist.

Renée: This fall, I realized that it is a challenge to get all of my "people," "just the seven of us," as we like to say, to go somewhere for family photos. So, I started doing "The Front Porch Sesh." I had a great response, people who had kids home from college, babies, toddlers, working parents, the whole nine yards. And people love their homes, so it was great! Recently, a photographer in Massachusetts started a project because of COVID-19 called "The Front Steps Project." It was a fantastic idea, and I decided that after a friend sent me the link that I would love to participate with my twist.

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All of Renée's slots are booked for the project on the form she built.

Renée: We had already been writing letters to people in our community, thanking them for working in hospitals, grocery stores, and happy notes to people who can't leave their retirement or nursing home to see family and friends. So, instead of a donation somewhere, I am asking my clients to write a letter that I can deliver to one of these groups. There is no charge for their images. I believe that our "Letters of commUNITY" and the "Front Steps Project" is a perfect match for me to combine. I have over 20 families signed up to photograph tomorrow! 

Renée: I will show up at their door, will keep my social distance, have the family gather on their porch, take my pix in exchange for their letter to someone in the community, and then send them their photo! It is essential in times of unknown to pull together more than ever, even at a distance. Together is always better for people to feel part of a community.

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What else are you doing to stay busy?

Renée: I am making time to be present with my family. I also cook, create, read, organize, edit, work on a new logo, work on my images that are tucked away, finish unpacking from our move to Virginia last summer, take walks, journal, write letters. It's okay to change day to day; we keep a light schedule and truly are embracing the little moments. As a Navy family, being fluid is a huge part of who we are, sticking together and always find joy in the little moments. 

This is just one of many photographers participating in The Front Steps Project. Renée's giving nature has made her resilient, able to think outside of the box, and stay creative in the crisis.

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