Joy Photography owner Jennifer Kearney was brainstorming ways to stay busy with her new photography business this winter when she thought of a project she hopes will encourage area residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The I Got the Shot community awareness project highlights individuals in the community who’ve gotten the vaccine. Each person holds a personal handwritten note sharing why they chose to take the vaccine.
“I was thinking about how sick I was of being inside all the time and away from family and friends, and I thought, ‘if we just get vaccinated, we’ll get out of this,’” Kearney said.
When the project began in January, Kearney reached out to people she knew had gotten the vaccine. It mainly featured medical professionals and the very few essential workers who were the first in line to get the vaccine.
“It was really well received, and then they connected me to other people,” Kearney said. “It just kind of blossomed from there.”
As of now, around 50 people have taken part in the project, ranging from teachers, police officers, a pastor and a retirement community resident. Lulu, a 103-year-old living through her second pandemic, was just as eager as many of the other folks to share she’d gotten the vaccine, Kearney said.
One of Kearney’s main goals as a photographer is to stress diversity. For the project, she chose to shoot the pictures in black and white to equalize everyone, she said.
“By choosing to have them all in black and white, you focus more on the individual’s features and expressions rather than what they’re wearing or where they’re at,” Kearney said.
She also chose only to use people’s first names and not use any business names, she said. For example, if you own a bakery, she might call you a baker.
“It’s just to put us all on the same level to remind us that we’re all in this together,” Kearney said. “We’re all very much the same.”
Kearney said the project has been both amazing and gratifying, especially with seeing how similar everyone feels during the pandemic.
“I think that we all feel kind of helpless [and] like there’s nothing we can do,” Kearney said. “One of the kind of overriding reactions I’ve had from most people is that they just feel so honored and welcome the opportunity to be able to do something to help.”
Others who’ve received a vaccine that are interested in being featured in the project can contact Kearney by email at email@example.com. Photos will be taken at no cost at your preferred location outdoors, Kearney said. Pictures are being taken outside to promote social distancing and mask-wearing.