GREAT FALLS — When history books look back on this period of time, it’s hard to guess what words they’ll use to describe this time of isolation, quarantine and COVID-19. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, then Great Falls photographer Bridgette Pence could fill libraries with pictures of how she hopes this time will be remembered.
Many people around the country are participating in what is called the #FrontStepsProject – and Pence jumped at the opportunity to take part and help her community. And the response was huge.
“The whole concept behind it is photographers going door to door, within a safe social distance,” she said. “Taking photos outside, but kind of capturing this moment when we’re all pretty isolated, but through that imagery, just being able to bring us a little closer together.”
But Pence took it a step further. She partnered with Benefis Health System, and asked families to donate to a local charity in exchange for a photo session. She had originally planned one day of shooting, but soon had to expand to four days where she travelled around town and photographed more than 50 families.
“Benefis has a mission of keeping our community better and healthy, so getting to partner with them was a huge honor,” Pence said. “They wanted to show support for the community. And the silver lining in all of this is we get to reconnect with the people that we spend time with on a daily basis.”
But photography is just one of her jobs. Pence also works full time as a counselor at Great Falls High school, and thought of a way to combine both of her professions. She created a new photo project called #BisonTogetherApart.
“Another counselor, Carie Magers, and I were talking about it and thought it would be fun to spread that message to our students and our Bison family,” Pence said. “We’re all missing our kids and our staff and our faculty. We got to go around to our staff and faculty, and capture them with messages to our students. So, it was a cool thing.”
The photos of smiling teachers, administration, and school staff quickly spread on social media – and the images hit home for many students and staff who are missing their extended family. And the message was loud and clear,:
The Bison are in this together.
“We hope our students know that we’re missing them, and we care about them and we hope they’re staying safe and healthy and continue to do so until we get to see them again,” Pence said. “Which we hope is sooner than later.”
To view Pence’s complete galleries for the #FrontStepsProject and #BisonTogetherApart, click here to visit her Facebook page.