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Porch Portraits

Helen and Bob Coleman, of Portage, encourage togetherness. © 2020 Brian Powers
Encore Photographer Brian K. Powers creates a little joy during COVID-19 restrictions

When Encore photographer Brian K. Powers saw an item on the national television news about a Wisconsin photographer taking porch portraits during the COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions, he knew he wanted to do the same thing in our community.

He immediately set up a Facebook page and website, invited his friends to be photographed and asked them to invite others. He expected a dozen or two to take him up on it. Instead, he shot more than 130 portraits in two weeks.

For The Porch Portrait Project, Powers offered to take pictures of families or individuals on the front porches of their homes. He asked the subjects to make signs with messages to hold, and he photographed them holding the signs. Once the picture with the signs was taken, he had the subjects drop the signs, posed them and created a more traditional family portrait.

Powers says he shot all of the photos with a long lens so that he could stay 20 feet away from the subjects. “It was a very safe distance,” he says. “There was no physical contact whatsoever between the subjects and me.”

Powers encouraged people from multiple houses in various neighborhoods to take advantage of his offer, and many did. “I would take a portrait, jump in the car, drive to the next house, take the portrait, and jump in the car to go to the next house,” he says.

Powers ended up taking shots of people from all over Kalamazoo and Portage and from all walks of life. He didn’t take the photos for profit. Instead, he gave all of the participants the digital images for free.

But when more strict stay-at-home orders were issued on March 23, Powers put the project on hold, but says when the order is lifted, he will complete the project and take portraits of the remaining registered families.

“It is so fun to do,” Powers says. “People were loving it, and I loved it. It just felt good to bring them some joy during this time.”

To see more of Powers’ portraits, visit The Porch Project Group on Facebook at

Encore Magazine

Encore Magazine is Southwest Michigan’s Magazine, bringing readers intriguing images and stories of the good things, good works and great people of our corner of the mitten. Published 12 times a year, Encore in its fifth decade of serving Southwest Michigan, carrying on a historic tradition of being the premier lifestyle publication of the greater Kalamazoo area.

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