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The Pandemic Portrait Project: Small Business in a tourist town.

WNC Native & Award Winning, Professional Wedding & Family Portrait Photographer, based in Asheville, NC documents the living history of the families in her community as well as the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the locally owned, small businesses & non-profits rooted in this popular tourism destination, nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

From the inception, I wanted this project to be about documenting this unprecedented moment in our region’s living history. Native to the area and having been a Professional Wedding and Family Portrait Photographer here for the last eleven years, in this very special little city that I’ve called HOME for most of my life… I naturally wanted to photograph the families living in my community. I wanted this project to be about capturing them as they really are, right now. I wanted to meet them wherever they are, whatever that means for them right now. Some families have made light of the moment, some families have given me a raw look at their hardships and how taxing it can be to parent in this difficult moment in time, some families have brought me tremendous JOY in dressing up, incorporating funny props and making the very best of a really bad situation. Some families have invited me to capture the milestone moments that are STILL happening despite this crisis.

This experience has been incredibly humbling and inspiring, exhausting and at times, extremely difficult. This experience has been an unbelievable blessing in our lives and quite literally has meant survival for myself and my three year old son, Noah during this very scary and uncertain time to be an artist, a small business owner and a single parent. So, from the very depths of my soul, THANK YOU.

Very quickly and organically, this project grew to include paying special tribute to the HEROS of this Pandemic. I have been so honored to photograph dozens of Doctors, Surgeons, Nurses, Paramedics, Cops, Firefighters, Pharmacists and other ‘Essential Workers’.

But of ALL the HEROS that I’ve photographed, stopping by MANNA Food Bank last week to photograph the incredibly selfless HEROS over there was probably the most moving and impactful moment of the project thus far. Because of this experience, $10 of every Pandemic Porch Portrait Project Booking going forward will be given directly to MANNA Food Bank to support this organization as they continue their vital work in our community.

Last week, my little project took an exciting new turn! Tuesday night, I dreamt about it and Wednesday morning, I woke up: a woman on a mission! I dreamed up another way that I can help my community right now. I’ve decided to begin photographing small business owners in front of their shops. I want to talk to them about their experience, I want to hear about their unique struggles, I want to learn about how they’re pivoting to meet this crisis in order to survive it, I want to find out how they’re supporting their community right now and I want to tell everyone how our community can support them right now!!! If you know a small business owner, particularly in downtown Asheville, I would love it if you’d share this blog with them & encourage them to get in touch! 🙂

Meet Nicole + Claire, co-owners of Moonlight Makers

When I met these two adorable humans in the middle of the street on Rankin Ave one super windy/cold afternoon last week, besides feeling like I wish they’d let me be their other best friend, the thing that stuck with me most about our encounter was this:

When I asked them, how they were doing with all of this, instead of telling me how (they) are doing, they spoke only about their employees. Referring to them as Family, they described how incredibly heartbreaking it was to close up shop when they’re responsible for the livelihoods of 15 people, who they care deeply for. With very little income coming in, between the expenses of ‘keeping the lights on’ and families to support (6 small children between them), the pain of having their hands tied in this crisis and to not bing able to (do) anything to help their employees right now — was written all over their faces. I could see the heartbreak behind their cordial smiles. It was very apparent to me (in just the few minutes that I was there with them in that street), that they are sad and are struggling with this because of their genuine love and devotion to the company that they’ve invested blood, sweat and tears to build and grow — and to their employees.

A few words from Claire + Nicole:

“Unfortunately we had to lay off all of our staff four weeks ago and they are like family to us so it has been heartbreaking. We spent the first two years of our business mostly online, so we are going back to that until we can reopen our doors.  We have decided to open our store when the time feels right to us and not just when the government deems it ok.  Protecting our staff, families and community is the most important thing to us, so we are going to ride out the storm as best we can with just the two of us working with the doors closed for now.  With six children at home between the two of us (ranging in age from 18 months to 9 years) and no extra money coming in from the business besides keeping the lights on and the rent paid, there is a lot of juggling and prioritizing going on behind the scenes. It is a daily balance of trying to remain positive, but being informed as well as trying to plan when so much is unknown.  We are grateful to be in Asheville in such a tight-knit community with so many business owners rooting for each other.  Sending a great big hug out to our beloved Asheville!”

Claire & Nicole

If you would like to support this locally owned small business, you can scoop up some super cute, funny t’s & tanks, stickers, magnets, mugs, onesies, tote bags, dish towels, pins, greeting cards, coasters and koozies on their website! Let’s support this Asheville born, Women-Led, Small Business!

MOONLIGHT MAKERS WEBSITE

And because I know you’ve been waiting, here are a few of my favorite Pandemic Porch Portraits from this past weekend!

These two had to postpone their Wedding because of the pandemic.
They met at work. They work for HOMEWARD BOUND of WNC.
They spend most of their time working at the makeshift homeless shelter that has been set up at the Civic Center since all of this happened…
PS- They accept donations M-F from 2-4pm (I think)
you can just pull up right out front & unload, it’s super easy, it only took like a minute of my time to swing by and drop off some things I had around the house!
Needs: toiletries, books, magazines, games, packs of socks/under ware & lounge clothing.
This HERO’s ICU Nurse.
This was my favorite image from the weekend! 🙂

HEROs of the Weekend:

You can see the “Best of the Pandemic Porch Portrait Project” by clicking the link below:

BEST OF THE PANDEMIC PORCH PORTRAIT PROJECT, ASHEVILLE NC

About the Project:

The Pandemic Porch Portrait Project began with friends & neighbors and rapidly expanded to include photojournalistic portraits of families within the Asheville community, paying special tribute to the HEROS (including but certainly not limited to: nurses, doctors, surgeons, paramedics, fire fighters, police officers, social workers, lab techs, pharmacists, engineers, etc) and again expanded to also include a profile of small business owners with photographs in front of their shops downtown and non-profits providing vital resources to our community during this crisis.

Why?

I wanted to do what (I) can, using my unique skillset to help my community during this crisis. As a professional photographer, I believe that it is my responsibility to document this moment in history.

I am offering this opportunity to families, small businesses and non-profits within my community, to help them to document this unprecedented moment in our country’s living history. The idea for the project is to capture your family (or business/organization) as you really are, right now, in this moment. No special hair, makeup or wardrobe required & nothing is perfectly lit or posed… this is meant to be just you: real, honest, and human.

Purpose:

The purpose of the project is to document your struggles, your resilience, your tenacity, your hope and the JOY that you create despite this crisis. Some families have opted to do a “normal” portrait and my favorites have been those families who have chosen to make light of or to make the very best of an incredibly bad situation by dressing up in costume, incorporating funny props, bubbles or signs of encouragement for their neighbors, etc!

Safety:

I actually shoot these portraits with a telephoto lens (70-200mm) so that I can shoot comfortably from a 50-75ft ft distance away from my subjects (I am usually at the curb, out in the yard or at the end of the driveway. I am no where near my subjects and certainly not within any distance where there could be any potential risk of virus transmission.

Cost:

The cost for a Pandemic Porch Portrait is $40 (as of 4.18.2020)

$10 of every session booked will go directly to MANNA FOOD BANK on behalf of the Pandemic Porch Portrait Project Families. (as of 4.18.2020)

Payment:

You can Pay Pal or Venmo me.

Venmo me: @ Brittany-Sisk OR Pay Pal me: brittanyksisk@gmail.com

This modest fee quite literally keeps gas in my car to carry on with the project, keeps the lights on, keeps a roof over our heads and keeps food on our table during this very scary and uncertain time to be an artist, a small business owner, single mother & my son’s sole provider.

From the very depths of my Soul, Thank you for your Support.

Scheduling:

You can schedule your very own Pandemic Portrait Project experience for your family, business or non-profit by clicking the link below to sign up for an available space on my calendar!

(I am trying to schedule folks in the same area on the same day so as to limit my running back & forth and all around the county!)

Please be aware that as I begin to look at the calendar (usually a couple days ahead of time), I will likely send an updated confirmation with your scheduled shoot time — which may change slightly as I organize a travel route that is efficient and limits backtracking!)

Wednesday: East AVL – Haw Creek, Oakley, Sweeten Creek area, Kenilworth, N. Hendersonville Rd neighborhoods + points in between.
Thursdays: Asheville City (proper) – Downtown, Five Points, Montford, Norwood, Grove Park/Sunset + points in between
Fridays: N. Asheville (UNCA area, Beaver Lake area, Woodfin)
Saturdays: West Asheville- RAD, Haywood + points in between.

What about Arden, Fairview, Fletcher, Candler, Weaverville, Black Mountain?

If you live in a neighboring community, I WILL travel there, however, you will just need to organize a group of 5-10 neighbors and friends in your area to participate on the same day (during the same 2hr time block) so that I can give your community an entire day’s shooting (Mondays or Tuesdays) Please reach out to organize pandemic portraits for your community!

Contact:

If you need to speak to me ahead of your session, please give me a call OR shoot me a text (828.779.8401)

The Process: I usually text when I’m en route to your location with an ETA, I’ll beep the horn when I arrive, you’ll come outside & I’ll shoot the portraits. After the shoot, I’ll edit the files and upload them into an online gallery for you to download your files or order prints, etc. I will send a link to your email with a download PIN for access to download your files! ❤

Follow us on the Socials!?

Facebook: @AshevillePortraitCompany
Instagram: @AshevilleWeddingPhoto

Photographer: Brittany Sisk
Native of WNC, Professional Wedding & Family Portrait Photographer located in downtown Asheville for the last eleven years.
Owner/Lead Photographer at Asheville Portrait Company – which is the umbrella company for:

www.AshevilleFamilyPhotography.com www.AshevilleWeddingPhoto.com

Asheville family Photography

Serving Asheville, NC & Beyond

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Serving Asheville North Carolina& Beyond