Autistic Photographer Participating in the Front Porch Project Documenting the Quarantine

Wang Family Front Porch Project
Malcolm's family Front Porch Project

My health and the love in my heart are most important. In my Front Porch pictures, I can see that other people believe the same thing.

By Malcolm Wang

The Front Porch Project is a nationwide project to document the COVID-19 quarantine. Artists go to people’s houses to photograph each family standing on their front porch. Everyone is at home because many states have advised people not to leave their houses until April 30. Most people are at home with their families right now. People miss their friends, and there has never been a quarantine in the United States like this before.

McFarland Family

I decided to participate in the Front Porch Project because I enjoy practicing my photography, and photography is a good coping strategy for me. When I take the front porch photos, I stand 10 feet away, so I am keeping my social distance.

Portrait Photography is a picture of a person or a group of people in a way that is special to them. A good portrait shows personality and feelings. It is hard for me to focus on faces. It is hard for me to focus on feelings. Some details I have to look for in a portrait are lighting, shadows, closed eyes, relaxed faces, nice smiles, making sure hands are placed nicely, and a good background. It is easier when people are on the front porch and are in the shade. When people are happy to be together, it is easier to get a good picture, because I can see the love.

In the project I noticed that when faces were happy, eyes were closed from the big smiles. People smile with their mouth and with their eyes. When people smile with their eyes, their eyes almost look closed. Some people in my pictures were wearing pajamas and some had bare feet. That shows they are feeling relaxed, and showing their love.

Sometimes when people are happy to be together, they make a tight smile. That means the person is excited. The mouth looks very different from other people in the picture who have soft smiles. I do that in family portraits, and some of my good friends also do that. That often happens with autistics. It is okay because it is a different way of showing happiness and love.

Many of the families I photographed have a person with a disability. In those photos, I can see that the family protects and supports each other.

The Front Porch Project is a good choice for me because I get to see friends, practice social distancing, practice my coping strategies, use natural lighting, and use the porch like a frame. The lighting and the framing make it easier for me to take a portrait.

The first thing I do when I edit a front porch portrait is to crop the photo because I don’t want too much clutter in the background. The second thing I do is Auto Smart Fix on Photoshop. Auto Smart Fix sharpens the photo and balances the lighting. After that, I do Auto Smart Tone on Photoshop to brighten the photo. Usually, the last thing I do is color saturation. Color Saturation adds in a little bit of color.

Jaafar Family

People feel happy when I send them the finished portrait. They say thank you. I received a very nice note from my friend. She said, “Thank you for thinking of our family for a family “porch”trait. We were touched that you asked and loved the idea. What an incredible idea that brings light and joy in this somewhat uncertain time. Your photography is stellar and we are happy that you are finding new ways to put your creative eye to work. We are big fans of your work and will always cheer you on. Thanks for the photos!”

People are feeling surprised and anxious during the quarantine. No one knows for sure what is going to happen next. The Front Porch Project helps people have a happy memory from the quarantine. When people see the portrait, they see the love in their family.

It is important to document the COVID-19 quarantine because staying home helps you think about what is special to you. To me, my health and the love in my heart are the most important. In my Front Porch pictures, I can see that other people believe the same thing.

To see more examples of the Front Porch Project, people should do an internet search on #frontporchproject or follow on Facebook. Many artists across the USA are involved.

Wang Family Front Porch Project
Malcolm’s family Front Porch Project

Malcolm Wang is an artist in Michigan. Malcolm was diagnosed with autism at age three. His artwork is sold through Mod Market in Northville, Michigan.

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