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Capturing joy: Front Porch Project

by Cally Peterson


Cokey Conant’s three great-granddaughters, Lydia, Adeline and Ivy Mueller, can still make him smile from a social distance. The Mueller sisters have had some car time with their mom, Brandi Mueller, this spring, as she photographs families for her Front Porch Project.

“Hopefully, the pictures will show that there was joy in this time,” Brandi Mueller says of her new Front Porch Project.

With a camera at the ready and her three young daughters in the backseat, Mueller has kept her creative side busy during this time of COVID-19 social distancing. The self-taught photographer and owner of BAR NONE Photography in rural Dazey has been taking photos of area families, who are at home or quarantining together. Families pose on their front porches or lawns, allowing Mueller to maintain a safe distance.
The Front Porch Project started popping up across the country as the COVID-19 pandemic forced closures and stay-at-home orders in many states. The idea spread through social media, where Mueller caught wind of it, too.

“Social media can cause conflict and be viewed in a bad light, but this project has brought so much joy,” she says. “Some of these photos have reached their families thousands of miles away.”
“The smiles are so genuine, laid back and easy,” she says.

Since starting her Front Porch Project, Mueller estimates that she has photographed around 100 families, with more in the works.

“As people heard what we were doing, the response has just been immense,” she says. “I am still just shocked how willing and happy everyone was to participate.”

Mueller’s photos have even taken the place of traditional newborn shoots, for families who have welcomed children during the COVID-19 pandemic. And the photo of three of Mueller’s daughters giving an air hug to their great-grandpa is one she will treasure forever.

The smiles on their faces is compensation enough for Mueller, who has been putting on miles, donating her time and doing this photo project for free, to give back to the people in her community. Some have asked to pay her, and her response is always the same.

“Give it to somewhere in your community that needs it,” she says. “If they have the means, make a donation to the local fire department, the community hall, the park board that’s trying to raise money for equipment.”

The Front Porch project – capturing joy, yes. Giving it back, too.

Find “BAR NONE Photography” on Facebook to see Mueller’s work and her entire Front Porch Project photo collection.

Cally Peterson is editor of North Dakota Living. She can be reached at cpeterson@ndarec.com.

Carlee and Chloe Barnes with their goats, Wimbledon.
The Jon and Beth Slag family, rural Wimbledon.

 

The Craig and Mary Stockeland family, rural Cooperstown.
The Shane and JeriAnn Everson family, rural Dazey.

 

 

The Lee and Staci Guscette family, rural Wimbledon.
Lisa McMillan gave birth to her youngest son, Davis, on April 1. Big sister, Adley, and big brother, Judson, had to wait until Mom and Dad got home from the hospital to meet him. The McMillans farm in rural Wimbledon, which is why Dad (Dwight) was not in the picture.



 

Retired veterinarian Vernon Knudson and his wife, Lois, of Cooperstown.

 

Hannaford Mayor Debbie Dahl and her husband, Alton.

 

The Brandon and Nancy Mueller family, rural Dazey.