A ‘front porch’ view of Brookings

Photo courtesy of Erica Lynn Photography: The Holbeck family is one of dozens of Brookings-area families that participated in Erica Schuster’s Front Porch Project on April 6. Schuster is the owner of Erica Lynn Photography and organized the community service project as a way to document this unprecedented time and give residents something to smile about. All photos were taken while practicing social distancing.

Photographer captures a ‘little bit of happiness’

BROOKINGS – There was a time in American history and culture when many family homes had spacious front porches. Families would gather on them on warmer evenings and visit with one another and with neighbors and friends passing by while out for a stroll.

That doesn’t happen much anymore, especially when many people are hunkered down as the coronavirus keeps us indoors.

Brookings photographer Erica Schuster (Erica Lynn Photography) tried to capture a hint of those bygone family-focused days with her recent “Front Porch Project.” 

“It was basically a one-day community service project,” she explained. 

“Trying to try to give people something to look forward to and to promote a Iittle bit of happiness in this time of unknowing here and in the world, I guess you could say.”

Schuster said she had seen such projects being done by photographers in other parts of South Dakota and took an interest in it. She got her project done on April 6, shooting from about 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“The goal of the Front Porch Project is to provide you with a few photos on your front porch, doorstep, or sidewalk to document this unprecedented time in our lives. It might also give you a little something to smile about …,” Schuster said on her Erica Lynn Photography Facebook page when asking for volunteers for the project. “There will be no entering your home. It will simply be outside your home, and we will maintain a 6-foot distance or more to coincide with COVID regulations.”

“I took a couple thousand photos of 80 families,” she explained after her day of shooting was over. “I spent about two to three minutes with each family trying to get a couple candids and a couple smiles, hoping to get every family with four or five images.”

Other than a few photos shot in Volga, where her family lives, “it was all Brookings.”

In addition to having the photos in her portfolio, Schuster is getting the photos back to the families that participated, and she’s sharing them on her Facebook page.

Schuster is a South Dakota native, hailing from Groton, where she graduated from high school. She went on to South Dakota State University, where she graduated in 2017 with a degree in hospitality management.

Contact John Kubal at [email protected]

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