Person of the Week
Jennifer Redente Schatz: Capturing Miraculous Moments During Distancing
Some make masks, others donate food. For photographer Jennifer Schatz, her way to help others through the COVID-19 pandemic has been to take family and graduate photos. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Schatz )
A picture is worth more than a thousand words, especially when that picture captures the love of family in the midst of stressful times.
Jennifer Redente Schatz, a portrait photographer by hobby, spent her time in the middle of the COVID-19 related stay-at-home order capturing the still-life moments of families—and high school seniors—whose lives were turned upside down and expectations for the new year dashed.
Jennifer began taking photos of families in front of their homes with her Nikon SLR camera after being inspired by another photographer.
“I started taking the porch pictures because I saw that another photographer in New Haven was doing a documentary,” Jennifer says of the COVID pandemic. “I thought that would be great to document this trying time for everybody by taking family photos.”
The project kept Jennifer busy—and creative—during the stay-at-home and self-quarantine orders.
“People were doing fun stuff to document the pandemic like wearing masks or decorating their front porches with Lysol [bottles],” Jennifer says.
She then asked for a donation of up to $20 for each photo, the full proceeds of which she later donated to the COVID-19 Charity Connection (4-CT).
While in the midst of taking the front porch family photos, Jennifer (an East Haven mother of five ranging in ages from two to 22) also though about the graduating high school seniors and began offering free “cap and gown” photo sessions to families.
“I know how important graduation is for parents as well as kids, and I felt terrible for all those seniors,” Jennifer says, adding. “So, I thought I would extend the family porch photography project into free cap and gown photos for the graduating seniors and their families.”
Jennifer offered to take the senior photos either at the students’ respective high schools or at their homes, where ever they felt most comfortable.
“I’ve done the majority at the schools,” Jennifer says of the dozens of photo sessions she took in East Haven, North Haven, Branford, North Branford, and Hamden.
“I met them at the schools, they put their caps and gowns on, and I took pictures of them, their families, and of them throwing their caps up in the air,” Jennifer says.
Understanding the needs, wants, and desires of children is something that comes easily and joyfully to Jennifer, as gathered from her own child rearing experience.
“I have four biological children, ages seven, 13, 18, and 22, and I have a foster son whom we are in the process of adopting. He just turned two.”
Outside of the recent fundraising photography projects—and in keeping with her love of family—Jennifer also photographs newborns, children, families, and events.
“I loved having pictures of my kids taken, but it started to get expensive,” Jennifer says of her beloved hobby.
Several years ago, she was forced to retire on a police officer’s disability pension, and it was then that she realized how expensive things are when one’s income is reduced. This prompted Jennifer to offer professional photography services to families at affordable rates.
While Jennifer’s cap and gown photography sessions were free of charge, the donations she received for each front porch photo was deposited into a special account. The amount raised was $375 and a total of 55 families participated. She then donated that money to the COVID-19 Charity Connection (4-CT) after completing the front porch project, which ended on May 31.
“I felt that even though these families were missing out on so many special events and milestones, I was able to provide a photo memory that they could cherish for years to come,” Jennifer says, including one boy who held up a sign for his photo that read “I turned 11 in Quarantine.”
“A lot of families were very thankful as they now have a photo memory of these trying times,” Jennifer says. “I love capturing moments that families will look back on for years to come. A photo is a great way to go back in time, and brings back so many memories. I love being able to give this gift to families.”
The photos can be seen on Jennifer’s Facebook page at Miraculous Moments Photography.