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Personal Project: 100 New Friends

As strange as it sounds, Covid-19 and the physical distancing protocols put in place in Alberta led me to complete a variation of one of the personal photography projects on my bucket list.

A family of three sticks their tongues out in front of their house.

In December 2019, I completed my sixth consecutive project 52. For those of you new to personal photography projects, a project 52 involves photographing every week of the year. My project 52 commitment started with a Clickin’ Moms group where each week a different theme or technical skill was posted with an educational write-up. The group was there for feedback, questions and accountability. Over the six years (or 312 weeks) my projects developed into photographing what I chose, often telling stories of our family, and they were always blogged. The good, the bad, the ugly and the entertaining.

A young girl and her stuffed puppy wear princess dresses and pose for the camera while the rest of her family are having a tickle war in the background.

I made the decision to not do a project 52 in 2020, but that left me scrambling for a new photography goal. I contemplated a few different personal projects, including the 100 Strangers Project, but never really decided on one. Then, as many of you can relate to, things got busy. Oh, and there was that whole global pandemic thing. But Covid-19 brought my attention to the Front Steps Project.

A mom and daughter cuddle up in front of their house.

The Front Steps Project was started by a couple of photographers in the States and the idea resonated with photographers all across North America. I immediately loved the concept because it gave me a way to be of service in a strange time…to create connections even in a time of physical distancing. Front Steps participants received a free 5-10 minute session and a couple photos in return for “paying it forward” to a local charity or by doing a random act of kindness. Win-win-win!

A father and son step out for their front steps photo sessio.

Through participating in the Front Steps Project, I ended up connecting with 100 new friends in Canmore. Some were strangers. Some were connected through friends. Some knew my kids or my husband. But all were locals. And having just moved to Canmore in September this was an amazing way to get to know my community better.

Down the road, I still would like to do a full scale 100 Strangers Project, where I actually approach a stranger, explain the project and once they give their permission to be photographed capture a photojournalistic image of them. It’s just not the time to add this to my life right now. Want more details on the 100 Strangers Project check out this blog by David Peterson.

A toddler runs between his parents in front of Eclipse Coffee Roasters.

My Front Steps sessions are all booked out! I have reached my goal of photographing one hundred “pay it forward” sessions. Each participant has supported a local charity or done a random act of kindness for a neighbour. Below I have included links to some of the charities front steppers have shared with me…
Bow Valley Emergency Fund – a partnership between the Banff Canmore Community Foundation, Rotary Club of Canmore and the Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation
Bow Valley Food Bank
Canmore & Area Health Care Foundation
Canmore Food and Friends – in partnership with the Iron Goat Restaurant
Canmore Soup for the Soul – an initiative created by the Malcolm Hotel and Spring Creek
Hope for Hospitality – an initiative created by Tourism Canmore Kananaskis
Hope for Kids
Mountain Fire Foods – Meal Donation Monday
YWCA Banff

If you didn’t get a chance to have a Front Steps session there are a few other photographers in the Bow Valley who may still be offering “pay it forward” sessions.

A family of 3 cuddle up for the camera.

I am now offering Love for Locals mini-sessions through the end of June. Love for Locals sessions will still be outside from a safe distance. We will spend a little more time together to tell the story of your family during this time in history.

Contact me for more details about Love for Locals mini-sessions.

Published by Kristy Wolfe Stories

Kristy is an engaging, open, and honest Common Language DST trained digital storytelling facilitator. She has been speaking and teaching workshops on both photography & digital storytelling for 5 years. With a background in the education, healthcare, and non-profit sectors, she works with diverse audiences, prioritizing ethics in storytelling and storyteller wellbeing.

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