By Melissa Grant
When photographer Lauren Matthews launched a project aimed at capturing the COVID-19 lockdown in Casey-Cardinia and bringing the community together, she was flooded with enquiries.
During the first wave of the pandemic, Lauren offered to take happy and simple snaps of residents in their front yards, while observing social distancing, completely free of charge.
However, there was one catch – those who took up the offer had to donate whatever they could to a local charity or shop at a local business.
The mum of two from Hallam said she wanted to honour her community and help celebrate life during a confusing and unprecedented time.
She dubbed the project Pics Out the Front. It was inspired by similar projects that originated in the US and were catching on in Victoria.
“I was thinking that it was a nice idea,” Lauren said.
“I saw a few Victorian photographers doing the same thing. I saw one photographer from Warrnambool – I got in touch with her and she told me how it was benefiting their community.”
Lauren had 42 people sign up for her project. She visited homes across Casey and Cardinia from mid to late March.
Each time, she would pull up at the front of the house, call the occupants to come out, and take some pictures in the front yard while adhering to social distancing rules.
Many were families. There were mums, dads and teenagers, There were couples with young children and babies, the youngest just five weeks old.
“They were grateful to have a few photos of their families at that time,” Lauren said.
Lauren, who has her own photography business Lauren Maree Photography, says she also got plenty out of the project. She was happy to see so many people supporting local charities and businesses in what was a tough period for so many.
“It was quite heartwarming to see people so interested in it, but also to see and hear the feedback of people paying it forward,” she said.
“It was very rewarding.”