Turning Covid’s “Front Porch Project” into a book

Photographer Jenn Ocken was key in starting and growing the “Front Porch Project” in Baton Rouge. The Front Porch Project, originally called the “Front Steps Project” started in Massachusetts. A photographer would show up at your home and capture memories of the family through pictures but from a safe distance. 

Over the three-month shut-in, Ocken photographed nearly 900 front porch sessions in South Louisiana. That’s more photography sessions than she did in the last seven years.

There was no charge to the families for the porch sessions. As a thank you though, they received one free digital picture and each family promised to pay it forward to a local business or charity in return.

Eight months ago, Ocken started the next phase of the project —- a book documenting how Covid impacted and continues to impact our community. That book is called “Shut the Front Door” and it’s a collection of pictures and stories from her and the community to remember, celebrate and document what everyone went through during Covid.

“Damien Barr said during the shut in, we are all in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat,” said Ocken. “Some of us have super yachts, some of us have an oar. And some of us are maneuvering through it, eloquently and gracefully, like myself, who brought the project to Baton Rouge and had a blast doing it and has a beautiful community to thank for it, and then someone so close to me like my mom is still really doing everything she can to paddle up and maneuver through the pandemic with just one oar.”

Ocken started the book to remind everyone that many people, like her mother, are still navigating the impacts from Covid and the shut-in. She hopes it’s a way to remind everyone of how far many of us have come, but to also help the community have empathy for those who are still navigating it.

“We really got through those three months together as a community,” said Ocken. “I’m really proud of this community and that needs to be preserved in our generations to come.”

You can pre-order if  the book through October 20, 2021. Ocken only plans to place one order of the books so if you’re interested, please order now. 

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