Cumberland County photographer brings joy to neighborhoods through ‘Front Steps Project’

Carlisle/West Shore

EAST PENNSBORO TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — Most people have been cooped up in their houses for days, if not weeks and photographer Roger Baumgarten just wants to put a smile on people’s faces and help the community.

Like many industries during the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s hard to get work as a photographer.

No crowds and staying six feet apart means Roger Baumgarten’s schedule was wiped out through May, so he has a lot of free time.

He was inspired by a Boston photographer “who decided to go out through her neighborhood and take pictures of her neighbors on their front steps and she hashtagged it #TheFrontStepsProject,” Baumgarten said.

Now photographers all over the country are taking part, one set of steps at a time.

“It’s been kind of sad for the most part, scary, but this is fun and I figured we’d grab the Disney props and have a good time with it,” said Arie Watkins.

Baumgarten first started in his own Silver Spring Township neighborhood several days ago. Now he’s snapping photos all over town.

“It’s to lift their spirits, make them smile, relieve some of the boredom, and at the same time do some good,” Baumgarten said.

He’s using his photos to give back to the Salvation Army in Harrisburg.

“This week they prepared more meals in three days than they had done all last week and they’re doing it with almost no staffing because they can’t have a lot of people in,” Baumgarten said.

Of course, there’s a healthy social distance between his lens and the families he’s photographing.

“With being locked up in our house, being able to get our picture taken with the family and being able to donate to a great charity, two great things at one time,” said Scott Hammaker.

Some are taking just nice family portraits, while others are bringing out props to have a little fun.

It’s something to smile about in an otherwise tumultuous time. Baumgarten hopes other photographers will join him in the project. All proceeds from any photos purchased will go directly to the Salvation Army.

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