A Picture and a Purpose: Front Porch Project brings smiles to Baton Rouge families in isolation


They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but for Baton Rouge photographer Jenn Ocken, the pictures she’s currently taking are worth so much more.

“Being able to have a purpose and give back and include so many different people in the community… it’s such a beautiful thing” Ocken said.

With the coronavirus pandemic changing life as we know it, forcing people to socially distance themselves and in many cases stay home altogether, Ocken is using her lens to open our eyes to just how together we can be in isolation.

“I know the heaviness of all of this” she said. “I understand it not only being a small business owner, but being somebody in this community. I live alone and so being quarantined is a lonely process and you can easily dive into negative thoughts and loneliness and depression and your mental health can be strapped at this time especially” said Ocken.

Ocken is one of a number of local photographers working with the front porch project and it’s quickly taking off in neighborhoods across the Capital City. The concept is simple: Jenn and her team comes to you and while maintaining her own social distance, snaps a set of photos on your porch, in your yard or simply hanging out by the pool. You’ll get a free family photo and in return, you pledge to pay it forward.

“My ask, or the ask for doing this is to buy something locally” Ocken explained. “Buy a gift card to use later, just give money to the businesses any way you can, buy things online, order things online, restaurants, takeout.. whatever you can do to support economic flow through our community and these small businesses if possible” she said.

In the few days the project has been underway in Baton Rouge, Ocken has been flooded with hundreds of requests.

“Not everyone is getting dressed up, but a lot of people are using this time to put on their Easter outfits because all of that, all of the Easter plans have been upset and rearranged” Ocken said. “There is a smile and there’s just an overwhelming since of gratitude and appreciation and a sense of there is something to do that day, something to look forward to that day and it’s such a beautiful thing” she said.

It’s a chance to stop and smile amidst the craziness of the coronavirus pandemic and a chance to capture forever the very people that helped us get through it.

“It just gives everybody something to see on facebook that’s different than what we’re seeing right now or whats really out there” said Ocken. “Giving them a break from everything and allowing them to step back and appreciate and see the silver linings that are happening during this time too” she said.

Ocken is not the only local photographer participating in the project. If you are interested in a photo session, or joining the project as a photographer, contact the Front Porch Project BR, click here.

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