ERIE, Colo. — We can look back at these days as a time when people were confined behind closed doors or we can remember families together on front porches.
The latter is the gift Ana Lawson is giving her neighbors in Erie.
"OK, boys! Ready?" Lawson said, bringing her camera up to her eye. "One, two, three! Look at me!"
Lawson held down the shutter and snapped several rapid-fire shots of 4-year-old twins Ryan and Ryder Fargo. Their parents, Tristen and Mike Fargo, did their best to keep the boys from squirming out of their arms.
“They’re spending a lot of time together, too, so there’s a lot of fighting," Tristen Fargo laughed.
The Fargos posed on their front porch as Lawson stood several yards away taking photos in the front lawn.
“I’m being really careful to stay, you know, a good distance," Lawson said.
Behind her, Lawson's toddler, Presley, and newborn, Mia, grew restless in their stroller waiting for their mother to stop taking photos so they could continue their walk.
“If I’m not feeding my baby, I’m chasing around a toddler, so yeah, I stay busy," Lawson said.
The professional photographer usually gets paid for the kind of portraits she took of the Fargos Tuesday evening. COVID-19 put her career on hold but not her passion.
Inspired by the work of photographers across the country, Lawson decided to offer porch portraits for free.
“Some people are doing hilarious pictures," she said. "I mean, they’re like holding hand sanitizer and toilet paper, you know.”
Lawson posted a link to a signup sheet on Facebook and slots filled up fast.
“I posted, and I mean everyone talked to their neighbors," she said. "I had people signed up that aren’t even on Facebook."
As of Tuesday, the photographer said she had nearly 150 homes on her list.
“I was deeply inspired when I first saw Ana’s post," said Jenny Kratzke.
Lawson took photos of Kratzke and her son, Xavier, 6, on the front steps of their home.
“She’s doing something with her talents to reach out to other people, and it’s very touching," Kratzke said.
Kind words from her subjects mean everything to a photographer like Lawson.
“Oh my gosh. It makes me want to cry and I mean, I’m not a crier, but I’m postpartum, so you know, I cry about everything," she said.
Each afternoon is a walk through a new neighborhood with her kids and a chance to connect with her neighbors.
Lawson is also collecting donations for Erie Uplink, a non-profit that provides families with basic needs.
She hopes to take portraits of her neighbors each evening until April 13.
Some may choose to remember the stay-at-home orders and empty porches, but Ana Lawson chooses a portrait of families together.
"You want to remember that you had time with your family and that you had kind of this – this strange gift, you know," she said.
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