One Year On…
In Spring 2020 the whole world went in to lockdown – it still sounds crazy!
Photographers everywhere, myself included, turned to our craft to document this really unique time for ourselves, our families and our communities.
In May 2020, I was looking for a way to support Pieta, whose annual Darkness into Light fundraising campaign had to be cancelled. Around the same time, I had heard of two U.S. photographers, Cara Soulia and Kristin Collins who had started The Front Steps Project. I was immediately inspired to follow suit and I put a post on my social media inviting my local community to get involved.
On the day when Pieta’s Darkness into Light campaign should have taken place, I offered mini portrait sessions to neighbours on their doorsteps in exchange for a donation to Pieta. (Strictly observing social distancing and the 5km restrictions of course!) The purpose was not for families to look their best, but to be real, to document this shared moment in our history, when we were all required to stay home.
The response was amazing and also unexpected! In no time I was oversubscribed so I added some extra slots on the days either side of the fundraiser to accommodate as many as I could.
It turned out to be such a joyful experience in the midst of what was a truly surreal time! I was met with so much positivity throughout the community. We also got extremely lucky with the weather, resulting in a series of beautifully sunny portraits, also representative of the unprecedented good weather we had in Ireland throughout that first period of lockdown.
It was wonderful meeting so many neighbours and hearing how everyone had been finding lockdown. I’ve always been so conscious that while we are all in this together, every person has their own unique circumstances and experiences from this time and I really wanted to capture a flavour of those different stories as part of the project. So, these portraits represent not only the requirement on us all to stay at home, but serve as a reminder of the daily struggles, the challenges as well as the unexpected joys this time brought. You can find all the portraits and their little stories on my Instagram @mariaruskphotography #portraitsforpieta.
Documenting this time might not mean much now, but in years to come these photographs will have so much meaning. They will remind us of a time when we were brought closer as families, where we stayed at home and where we made sacrifices for the good of our community.
Donations were completely discretionary, but as always, the generosity of the Irish came through and together, as a community, we raised a total of €2,000 for Pieta.
A number of the portraits featured in the Fingal Independent and Dublin Gazette, highlighting the project. And I was especially chuffed when two of my photographs were selected to feature in an International photobook “The Front Steps Project: How Communities Found Connection During the COVID-19 Crisis”. This book features over 400 inspiring photos from all around the world and poignant stories of heartache and triumph. It commemorates a massive effort of good will and demonstrates that even in the most challenging of circumstances, kindness, love, courage and hope exist to build and connect communities around the globe.
I am SO proud that our little community in Donabate is represented in this book and came together to support such a worthy cause in a time of crisis.
Thank you again to everyone who got involved and supported this project last May.
💗While most of us have stayed home this last year, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the dedicated front line and essential workers who could not stay home. We are forever indebted to you for all you have done and continue to do for our society💗
“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”