Porch Photo

Through the COVID-19 Lens: Photographers Find Creative Ways to Keep Clicking

Social distancing and other effects of Covid-19 have disrupted life as we knew it — especially the seasons of graduations, weddings and summer sports.

And though we haven’t been able to gather as we did in the past, two local photographers are making sure our families still have memories from these unprecedented times.


Casey Griffin, (@casey_leigh_g_photography), owner of Casey Leigh G Photography, has been working on “The Front Porch Project.” Over the last two months, Griffin has traveled to clients’ homes to take family portraits on the front porch from a safe six feet away.

A medical assistant by day, she created the project as a way to offer support to other medical professionals and frontline workers during the pandemic. Rather than charge her clients a fee, she accepts monetary donations from the families and uses the money to purchase gift cards that she then donates to help feed frontline workers.

“I feel it is very important at this time to try to do everything that we can to help and support each other,” Griffin said. “I also feel very strongly about supporting all of the health care workers. I don’t care if you are a doctor, a nurse or a housekeeper. Whatever title that you may hold, you are the true heroes to me.”

Griffin said she has always taken a camera everywhere she goes, documenting as many moments as possible. And while the pandemic isn’t a cause for celebration, she wants to memorialize this historic event for her clients.

“Even though this is a scary and uncertain time for all of us, this is history. I want people to be able to remember this moment in time. I want them to remember their house, how little or big their children were, the pets that they had. I want them to be able to share these photos one day with their children or grandchildren and pass them on for generations to come,” she said.

  • Porch Photo
    Brian and Julie Joseph and daughter Tesla.

Wheeling resident Julie Joseph participated in Griffin’s Front Porch Project with her husband, Brian, and daughter, Tesla. Joseph said she found out about the photography project through Facebook and was delighted to hear all donations collected from the photo sessions would be used to purchase gift certificates from local restaurants to benefit frontline health care workers.

Joseph describes the project as, “… a unique way to document this historical time period we are in while helping to support local frontline workers and local restaurants.”

“A little appreciation goes a long way, and we were very grateful to Casey for sharing her time and talents by offering such a unique and fun thing to do during this difficult and uncertain time of Covid craziness. She’s such a blessing to our community,” she said.

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Another local photographer, Riley Lynn Carpenter (@rileylynn_photography), is adapting her new business in light of COVID-19. Carpenter, a kindergarten teacher at Woodsdale Elementary, started taking photos as a hobby three years ago. Just this year, she opened her business, Riley Lynn Photography, and she is currently enrolled in the spring session of Wheeling Heritage’s Co-Starters program.

Carpenter usually has a lot of client requests for newborn sessions and weddings. In fact, she had 10 sessions booked in March and April that were canceled or postponed because of the quarantine.

She is also working to accommodate clients who are dealing with lost income and may no longer be able to afford their scheduled sessions.

Even though she can’t take photos right now, Carpenter still wanted her clients to have the pictures they’d been looking forward to. During the Easter holiday, she offered some tips on how to take great photos at home. She then told clients they could send the photos to her for editing, free of charge.

Molly Sovich and her daughter, Stella, are regular clients of Carpenter and used her editing services after canceling an in-person session this spring.

“We’re really grateful that she’s willing to take the time to edit pictures she didn’t take,” said Sovich. “She’s able to enhance images that I’d normally keep on my phone to something my family members were asking to be framed.”

  • Stella Sovich
    Before and after editing. (Pictured: Stella Sovich)

Carpenter also created “The Mama’s Guide to Taking Newborn Photos” for new moms who are not able to have her into their homes for sessions right now.

“I know that so many families, especially moms, love to have Fresh48 or Newborn Sessions within their first days postpartum,” Carpenter said. “I had a couple mom friends ask me for some tips on how to take photos on their own … I’m offering that free DIY resource guide upon request, along with some special ‘editing only’ packages for them too.”

Both Carpenter and Griffin plan to resume outdoor photography sessions as social distancing requirements allow.

• Wheeling native Jennifer Materkoski is a graduate of West Liberty University and Kent State University, where she earned a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications. Before beginning her current role as director of communications and employee engagement for a global business process outsourcing firm, Jennifer worked in local media and non-profit communications. She is a current board member of Generation Wheeling, also chairing the organization’s Work Committee. She lives in Wheeling with her husband, Rich, and her three children: Mason, Mercer and Miller.