‘Front Steps Project' Encourages Connections, Giving Through Photos

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As everyone stays home, photographers across the country are inviting people to step out, smile and give back to their communities.

It’s called the “Front Steps Project” and one Dallas photographer is spending her days capturing families in a unique perspective.

Julia Newman is used to capturing memories.

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A professional photographer for the last 15 years, she’s shot hundreds of family portraits and weddings, but no memories compare to the ones she’s captured the last few weeks.

She and her family moved to East Dallas from Brooklyn the first of March.

“I was really looking forward to connecting with the community, but then we all got shut down,” Newman said.

With her work shoots canceled and extra time on her hands, she came across the “Front Steps Project” – a movement started at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the northeast.

The idea is simple. Photographers snap a photo of a family, as they are on their front steps, from a safe distance away.

Newman will send them a digital copy as long as they make a donation to the North Texas Food Bank.

The response has been overwhelming, with Newman booking several quick sessions a day across Dallas neighborhoods and raising critical funds to help feed the growing number of people dependent on the North Texas Food Bank.

Her photos have featured kids smiling in their pajamas, makeup free moms and dads playing with pets.

“When you take the stress out of a family portrait, getting everybody dressed and having perfect hair, everybody has a lot more fun and the kids enjoy it a little more,” laughed Newman. “People are really connecting with their families. They want to document this really strange time in all of our lives.”

Katie Cantu signed up her family for the project after she met Newman --- from across the street – on a walk through the neighborhood.

“The world is never going to be the same, it really isn’t,” Cantu said. “People are outside, they’re missing connections, they’re missing that face-to-face dialogue we’re supposed to be having.”

Like everyone else, she is working to find balance for her young family in this new normal and hopes – through the highs and lows – her family will walk away with a fresh perspective.

“I think it’s taught us all to appreciate those moments and we’re not going to take for granted a hug or a cup of coffee with a friend again,” she said.

For more information on similar projects in your neighborhood search #FrontStepsProject on social media or click here.

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