Local high schooler brings people together with photos during COVID-19

By ROBYN JAMES | Special to the Reporter

What do Shelby County families, local business leaders and health care workers have in common during the COVID-19 pandemic? A kid by the name of John Watson, a rising senior from Spain Park High School who is making a difference across our Shelby County communities.

Watson used his time, talents and compassion this spring to get involved with the Front Porch Project, which is a national initiative that brings photographers and local families together to raise donations for a good cause during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project provides families the opportunity to gather together on their front porch and have professional family photos taken to use as a keepsake. There is no charge for the photos, but families can make a donation to BHM Cares, which is the nonprofit organization Watson selected to partner with for his initiative.

“I selected BHM Cares as the organization to help raise money for because I like their mission which brings local restaurants, businesses, and healthcare workers together to better serve the community and those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Watson said. “In less than two months, I was able to use my passion for community and skills with photography to raise over $1,200 in a very short time for the cause.”

BHM Cares was started by Dr. Brandon White, a local hospital physician, who wanted to create a platform where the community can help local businesses affected by the pandemic, and at the same time, support the hospital health care workers in the greater Birmingham area by having meals delivered to them prepared by local restaurants.

At the age of 17, Watson is now a freelance photographer which all started with his love for sport cars and taking photos of them with his cell phone.

His passion for cars and photography only strengthened when he got his first professional camera and devoted his time and energy to learn as much as possible about photography and how to use his skills to make a mark in his local community.

Watson set up his social media posts, reached out to local leaders, and was able to touch the lives of 30 families by taking their family portraits each of which displays how they are able to overcome the challenges of the pandemic as a family.

“One of the most inspiring experiences of my project is that a photograph lasts forever and the photographs the families now have can be passed down to other family generations to show them on their front porch during this unique year of 2020 and pandemic” Watson said.

John is an inspiration to young adults across Shelby County that can find a passion for a trade, work with dedication to master that trade, and then use their passion and trade to make a difference in the lives of local residents, businesses and those who are on the front lines fighting the pandemic.

If you want to get involved in the Front Porch Project, or make an appointment for a family photograph session, Watson can be reached via text or phone at (205) 470-4485. There is no cost for the family portrait but donations are encouraged.