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June 2, 2020

Marshall Tidrick’s ‘Front Porch-rait’ Series Captures an Austin at Home During Coronavirus

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Photographer Marshall Tidrick was tinkering with the idea of a “Front Porch-rait” series well before coronavirus came to town.

“I have this old film camera that’s kind of a pain to move around, it shoots super large negatives — the kind where you throw the sheet over your head,” he explains. “And we have a very cute front porch.”

When the world started sheltering in place last month, Tidrick put the project on a back burner and turned his oven on instead, developing a small obsession for sourdough after watching a friend’s FaceTime tutorial. But three weeks into baking bread, Marshall began to miss taking photos and revisited his portrait idea.

Marshall Tidrick Porch-trait
Cydney and Tom. Photo by Marshall Tidrick, from his “Front Porch-trait” series

“‘Porch-rait’ is a portmanteau,” the native Austinite informs me.

Unlike his original idea, Tidrick now visits other people’s porches, lugging around lights and lenses to take their photos from a safe distance: “I’m getting out there and trying to make a visual record of this very weird time.”

He mainly uses his digital camera but shoots film as well with the hopes of giving each participant a print from the negatives.

Photo by Marshall Tidrick, from his “Front Porch-trait” series
Santi and Amanda. Photo by Marshall Tidrick, from his “Front Porch-trait” series

What started out as a small passion project for just his circle of friends has grown quickly, thanks in large part to Instagram (@marshalltidrick). As of now, 57 participants are lined up.

“Each session takes about an hour, which is fine because I have time right now,” he laughs.

Tidrick tends to shoot in the evenings, when the sun hits just right. He likes to merge casual with formal, using lighting for dramatic effect while encouraging his subjects to wear whatever they want.

“I also ask them not to clean up their porch beforehand.”

Photo by Marshall Tidrick, from his "Front Porch-trait" series
Claire and Nay. Photo by Marshall Tidrick, from his “Front Porch-trait” series

Photo by Marshall Tidrick, from his “Front Porch-trait” series
Susan. Photo by Marshall Tidrick, from his “Front Porch-trait” series

 

Barbara Purcell
Barbara Purcell
Barbara Purcell is an arts and culture writer based in Austin. She is the author of Black Ice: Poems (Fly by Night Press, 2006). In addition to Sightlines, her work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Canadian Art, Glasstire, and Tribes Magazine. She is a graduate of Skidmore College.

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