Photographer calls families to their front steps for virus-conscious art project

Paul and Aimee Juneau pose in front of their home with sons Jojo and Carter

BURRILLVILLE – A town-based photographer has started a project that illustrates the positive side of being stuck at home with family, and she’s offering free professional pictures to anyone willing to step outside.

Meagan Sharum launched Sharum Photography in 2007 and for the past 13 years, she and her husband Justin Sharum have built a business taking portraits, and covering local events such as weddings and proms.

In 2017 the business was named Best of Rhode Island in the category of wedding photographers and in 2018, it won Best of Rhode Island, Statewide Photographers in Rhode Island Monthly.

Sharum says her studio had many events and portrait sessions booked before life across the Blackstone Valley – and even the world – became dominated by fears of the spread of COVID 19. Most have since been postponed or cancelled.

“Our photography business is the main source of our income and our family’s bread and butter, but we have faith that things will be ok and work out in the long run,” Sharum told NRI NOW this week. “Who knew that about only a week or so ago our lives would be turned around so quickly.”

Home without work, Sharum says she felt lost, and was looking for ways to stay busy when she came across an article online about Boston photographer Cara Soulia’s idea for #Thefrontstepproject.

The project offers families – asked to stay at home to curb potential spread of the virus – a way to take advantage of their time together by posing for a photo on their own front steps.

Now Sharum has brought the idea to her own hometown, and is offering to provide two digital images free of charge to families that take part, asking in turn for a donation to Burrillville-based organization Between the Cracks.

“Between the Cracks is a wonderful organization here in Burrillville which helps give back to folks within the community who need help and have no where else to turn,” Sharum said.

Pictures take just a few minutes to shoot and are, of course, taken from at least the recommended six feet of distance, using a long lens.

It’s just one example of how local residents are doing their part to raise one another’s spirits, and contributing what they can to the world during a difficult time.

“I wanted to do something to help my community through this, knowing many families may be going through a loss of income much like we are at the moment,” she said. “I’m passionate about doing this because not only are we all home together- but we’re all a little bit nervous and unsure of our future as well.”

“I hope to be able to put some smilies on these families’ faces and give them something good to remember out of all this,” Sharum added. “It’s just a crazy time in all of our lives and I want to document that.”

Sharum said the response to the idea has already been overwhelming. On Monday, March 23, she was on the road taking pictures of Burrillville families. Another 20 families throughout Rhode Island were scheduled for the following day.

To set up an appointment to have your family photographed, contact Sharum via the business’s Facebook page here. Bookings will be set up throughout the week.

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