Photographer hopes free family snapshots can give small businesses a needed boost


EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) ─ For the first time in nearly 20 years, photographer Sara Zarrella finds herself out of business this spring due to COVID-19.

But instead of just waiting for clearance to continue business as usual, Zarrella has been using her passion to help the community during these unprecedented times.

Zarrella is taking part in a photography project aimed at assisting small businesses that are closed because of the pandemic. Zarrella learned of the movement, called #FrontStepsProject, from a friend before beginning her own version of it in Rhode Island.

The premise is simple: Zarrella is taking photos of local families on their front steps, all while following social distancing guidelines. The photos are free, so long as the family agrees to purchase a gift card from a local business to show their support.

“Think outside the box,” Zarrella said. “In addition to your local restaurant, think about the nail salon, hair salon, the bakeries.”

Zarrella said within the first 2-3 hours of promoting the project on social media, she received messages from more than 350 people. She said due to the influx of families eager to participate, she rallied 12 additional photographers to help.

“We want to have them come out to get some fresh air, but not go far, and preserve this moment that they are with their families,” Zarrella said.

“It has been the most amazing experience I had in a long time,” she added. “I’ve been doing this for 17 years and it’s been a long time since something touched my soul like it did that day.”

The project raised close to $25,000 for small businesses in Rhode Island.

Participating Photographers

  • Sara Zarrella Photography
  • Massart Photography
  • Katie Lovaas Photography
  • Teresa Sweet Photography
  • Classic Beauty Photography
  • Sabrina Scolari Photography
  • Hillary Block Photography
  • JL Photography
  • Piper Brown Photography
  • Lisa Freshette Photography

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