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Porch Portraits Bring A Salt Lake Community Into Focus

Photo of three people and a dog sitting on a front porch
Courtesy of David Sullivan
Andrea Melliadis, left, sits on her neighbor's porch with neighbors from her block.

Throughout Utah, communities have been finding creative ways to cheer each other up through the pandemic. There have been dog parades, bear hunts and sunny sidewalk chalk messages. One neighborhood is documenting the experience through photos.

Engaged couple David Sullivan and Andrea Fife have been walking and riding their bikes around Salt Lake City’s Liberty Wells neighborhood over the past month. Sullivan works in IT, but during the outbreak, he’s leaned into his photography hobby, pointing the camera at families on their porches.

“Everyone is kind of confined to their house, and we thought we’d try to brighten their day with some free photographs where they can give serious poses or some funny ones,” Sullivan said.

Photo of a man and woman posing in front of a house and holding a broom upside-down
Credit Courtesy of David Sullivan
Andrea Fife and David Sullivan

Community members sign up for photos on the neighborhood Facebook page called “The Sugarhood Gang.” Sullivan says the project has revealed a lot about the character of the community he’s lived in for about 11 years.

“A lot of people think the Salt Lake Valley is all the same,” Sullivan said. “But there is a lot of diversity here in the ‘Sugar Hood’ — ethnic, every kind of couple, every kind of family, every race, every income level. It can all be found in this little radius here, and we love that diversity. I’m happy to document it.”

Andrea Melliadis scheduled a photo, and she and her neighbors had a lot of fun with it. While Sullivan set up the shot from a distance, Melliadis and two others laughed as they staggered themselves six feet apart on the porch of a friend who was still inside. She said their street is a unique community and participating in the porch photos seemed like a fun thing to do.

“We have all been pretty close, and typically in the summer, we’re all out and spending time with each other,” Melliadis said. “So as much as we can foster that, we want to.”

Although Sullivan has lived in the area for more than a decade, Fife recently moved into the neighborhood. She says this project has pushed her out of her comfort zone and led her to meet people she wouldn’t have otherwise.

“We’ve kind of mentally flagged a few that we hope to hit up once this is all done and maybe seek out an actual, lasting friendship.”

Emily Means covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @Em_Means13

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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