By Annabelle Allen
Families all across the rivertowns have been forced to hunker down. College students have returned to their childhood homes. Parents are staying home with their kids. Stuck in the pressure cooker of lockdown, family tensions can surge. Yet many have also turned quarantine into quality time.
Doug Schneider, a professional photographer residing in Dobbs Ferry, has taken it upon himself to document it.
“It’s a challenge for a family or any group of people to be held up in a house together, but I’m finding that they’re grateful to have a record of this experience,” said Schneider.
Schneider has built a career taking photographs for the hospitality industry, but after a month of no assignments, he yearned for a way to do something meaningful. Out of that yearning came the “Families>>Humanity: The Portrait Project,” offering outdoor portrait sessions to families for a pay-what-you-can fee. All of the proceeds go to “On the Line,” an organization working to give paid work to kitchen staff, and execute meals to food insecure communities throughout Westchester.
Michelle Adams, owner of Saint George Bistro in Hastings and Harpers Restaurant in Dobbs Ferry, started On the Line to help her own restaurant workers sustain an income. However, since connecting with other restaurants throughout the rivertowns, the response has been overwhelming.
“The entire group of restaurants participating are currently making between 800 and 1,800 humanitarian meals per week. As of today, over 5,000 total meals were distributed,” said Adams. “Our job is to provide comfort to people, and we just have to find a different way to do that. It’s not hospital work, but it certainly feels like essential work on a different level.”
To learn more or donate to On the Line, visit https://www.on-the-line.org.
Schneider’s ultimate goal is to publish a documentary book to capture the impact that the pandemic is having on Westchester communities, while also capturing the spirit of the On the Line charity.
“It’s a very different world right now,” said Schneider, “I feel like it will be really powerful documenting this period that most of us have never experienced in our lifetime.”
Forty families in seven different towns have signed up for portrait sessions so far. Schneider makes his way across the rivertowns using his long lens to maintain proper social distancing. Though he can’t get too close, he reports that spirits are high and families feel hopeful.
To schedule a shoot or donate to Families>>Humanity: The Portrait Project, visit https://www.dougschneiderphoto.com/families-humanity-portrait-project.