Tornagrain resident Matthias Kremer has started a wonderful ‘Front Steps Project’ within the community to bring a sense of togetherness during these difficult times. Below Matthias explains the idea behind the project and how residents are responding to it within Tornagrain.

“I first came across the ‘Front Steps Project’ from a fellow photographer in Inverness, who in turn got the idea from a Massachusetts photographer, Cara Soulia. I thought it was a great idea and I decided to do the same thing here! I work as a photographer and due to the current situation my photography bookings, including weddings and other commissions have either been cancelled or postponed. I was glad for an excuse to keep taking photos and I had the time to be able to commit to this project.  I love taking portraits of people, especially natural and relaxed ones, and there’s also something so meaningful and universal about the anthropological nature, and historical significance of the project.

I wanted the project to benefit the community in some way and raise money for charity, so I contacted MFR Cash for Kids, who set me up with a charity champions page so I could begin fundraising. It was important to me to make sure that people didn’t feel compelled to donate – we’re in an extraordinary time and we’re all in different financial positions, so it was vital to me that everyone stayed within their means.

When I photograph people, I’m always conscious of social distancing and make sure not to touch anything while visiting!  I remain two metres from the house and use my longer lenses so I don’t need to be too close; everyone I’ve met has been very respectful of the two-metre rule.

There are currently 15 photographers taking part in the project throughout the Highlands, who have collectively raised over £8,000 for MFR Cash or Kids as of 29th May - it’s probably much more now!  I’ve raised £480 so far, although that number is increasing every day.

The response to the project has been overwhelming.  I’ve had and I am still receiving many enquiries from people in Tornagrain and some further afield too. Families, couples, and individuals have been in touch, which I’m delighted by!  I’ve really enjoyed meeting everyone I’ve photographed, and I have been able to meet many new people, which has been fantastic.  It’s great to see people embracing the idea, making the portraits their own and having fun, and everyone has been really happy to chat and share their stories.  I’ve done more chatting than taking photographs, and I feel like I have a much better knowledge of Tornagrain now!  Everyone has been delighted with their portraits and I hope they’ll serve as a lovely reminder of a time that has so many mixed emotions for so many".

It's fantastic to see the community come together during this unprecedented time and raise money for a local charity. A big thank you to Matthias for allowing us to share his story.

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