Documenting history: Siblings photograph quarantined families

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A few weeks ago, Tiffany Stoner, 48, watched the news while the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered nations around the world.

“I was watching all the people in Spain and Italy hanging from their balconies, really demonstrating their country pride and their ability to find something good in something so tragic,” she said. “And it just got me thinking, especially where we live – you know, we don’t have balconies to hang from and sing and show our talents, but there’s certainly a piece of Americana that I wanted to show.”

Stoner, along with her brother, Nate Edmunds, 45, resolved to capture that piece of Americana through a camera lense.

Since the start of the statewide stay-at-home order, the siblings, who co-own Nathaniel Edmunds Photography, have driven through Zionsville’s suburbs, capturing images of families on their doorsteps.

“Originally, it was driven by just friends, then friends of friends, and then with the social media side of it, from Facebook to Instagram,” Edmunds said.

Stoner and Edmunds call their photos #AtOurDoorstep images. So far, they’ve photographed more than 500 families across central Indiana and are getting more requests daily.

“I want them (to be photographed) how they would step out of their house,” Stoner said. “I take family portraits all the time with people looking their very best. I wanted people in their jammies, in their slippers, in their robes. I wanted kids wearing rubber boots in scrappy clothes.”

Stoner said each generation has lived through significant historical moments, such as Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination and Sept. 11, 2001. Now, Stoner said the current generation is living through a moment that people will remember for the rest of their lives — and it should be documented.

Each week, Edmunds and Stoner drive separately own Zionsville roads with a list filled with local family names and phone numbers. They let the families know when they will be driving by a neighborhood, and before they get to a house, they call the family to let them know they will soon arrive. Edmunds and Stoner take all photos from inside their vehicles to maintain social distancing.

Although they take the majority of their pictures in Zionsville, Edmunds and Stoner also have photographed families in Greenfield, Noblesville, Fishers and other central Indiana cities. And now other photographers are trying to replicate their efforts by launching similar campaigns to document their local communities, too.

Edmunds’ and Stoner’s pictures are free for digital copies. They take at least three pictures of families and share them with the family so that they can download the images. For some, it is their first family pictures. For others, it’s a timestamp of a difficult passage.

In another initiative, the siblings have partnered with Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana to raise funds for its services because the number of families it serves has tripled in the past few weeks. Nathaniel Edmunds Photography donated $250 to launch the campaign. The siblings encourage families they’ve photographed to donate $5 to help support Gleaners.

Gleaners is the largest food bank and hunger relief charity in the state, serving one-third of the 1 million food-insecure Hoosiers. With full funding from donations, Gleaners will have purchased $3.2 million in additional food in a period of 10 weeks, representing a roughly six-week supply for COVID-19 needs.

“From a mental health perspective, this has been great for me, too,” Stoner said. “This has been really so positive that I probably have a better euphoric feeling about things right now because I’ve seen so many smiles and so many families hugging each other.”

Stoner is optimistic that the pandemic, despite its painful stories and challenges, will lead to positive change in the aftermath.

“I hope we all maybe lead simpler lives,” Stoner said. “I hope we’re all more kind and grateful. There will be good things that come from this tragedy.”

To view Edmunds’ and Stoners’ family pictures, visit their Instagram account, @atourdoorstep.

Tiffany Stoner takes pictures of a Zionsville family. (Photo by Jarred Meeks)

Helping businesses

Siblings Nate Edmunds and Tiffany Stoner, co-owners of Nathaniel Edmunds Photography, have provided Zionsville businesses with photos to promote their sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Eric Holcomb recently ordered all nonessential businesses to only provide carryout, delivery and online orders, a move that has financially burdened business owners as they try to keep their enterprises afloat.

Edmunds said he and his sister understand businesses are struggling financially, so they simply want to spread the word about Nathaniel Edmunds Photography, which has been in business for 19 years. They opened the studio in Zionsville after moving from Chicago.

“It has an affect where these people are hopefully getting a little more business, which (would be) nice,” Edmunds said.

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