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Front step photos documenting family life during COVID-19

Twin Cities photographers are part of nationwide trend

MINNEAPOLIS — From 20 feet away, a Twin Cities photographer is capturing the meaning of home during COVID-19.

“This is where we’re all spending all of our time right now,” Sigrid Dabelstein says, “just within the safety net of our house.”

Sigrid is among photographers nationwide who’ve been shooting portraits of families on their front steps and porches, and in doing so capturing a moment in time.

“It’s been our safe zone,” Joe Huffer says from the steps of his Woodbury home.  He’s joined there by his wife Melissa and sons Eli, 9, Noah, 7, and Oliver, 3.

Eli was granted his wish for a “boring” pose.  He’ll remember this time for another reason. “The time that we had to be six feet away from all your friends, and the boring-ist year of my life,” the oldest of the Huffer children says. 

Still, Eli nodded in agreement when his mother reminded him the “being together” has been pretty cool too.

Sigrid has already photographed roughly 200 families under her "Front Step Project."  

The first 100 shoots she did for free. Now, she's charging $50 each to offset COVID-related losses to her photography business.

She also requests donations to the South Washington County Schools Educational Foundation, for which she's raised more than 4000 dollars on a gofundme.com page.

Most shoots take just five minutes or so. Sigrid remains several yards from the families she’s photographing. 

Some people have criticized such photo shoots at a time of social distancing. Sigrid and her customers are comfortable with her approach. 

“It's good to try to bring some happiness and joy in this situation,” Andy Peterson says.

The Lakeland dad posed on his front steps with his wife Tera and daughters Finley, 7, and Callie, 5.

“Maybe it’ll bring families closer,” Andy says. “That’s what you’ve got, that’s what you hold on too.”

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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There is also a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.