An ASU student urges people to spread kindness, not germs with her photos of people wearing masks.

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) -- A local photographer has come up with an idea that is now raising hundreds of dollars for COVID-19 relief charities, and it all started while she was at home in quarantine.

It’s called the Masked Portrait Project, and it captures images of people wearing face masks. Her website states the motto: "Spread kindness, not germs."

Sometimes all it takes to forge a great idea is to be left alone. That was the case for ASU photography student Emily Vance. Her idea came during week two of quarantine. "That’s when I created the Instagram account and the hashtag, and it’s grown so much just in the past couple of months,” said Vance.

At the start of the summer, back when face masks were not mandatory, she started capturing these images of ordinary people doing something she saw as extraordinary. "We all came together at a really tough time,” said Vance.

She started sharing the photos online, encouraging other photographers across the U-S to do the same. “2020 has been just a rough and trying year for all of us. I’m hoping that this will show that yes, it was really hard, but also look at the good and compassion that came from it,” said Vance.

From that grew the Masked Portrait Project. Now people who get their pictures taken, are given an option to donate to a COVID-19 relief charity.

Jenny Ervin thinks the idea is great. “I think that the conversation of wearing masks just turned really ugly and I love that Emily flipped the conversation and said this is actually something that is really beautiful,” said Ervin.

Despite being currently laid off from her job as an event planner, she chose to donate to the Navajo Nation Relief Fund. "You’re spreading kindness; you’re doing something for other people. And I think refocusing that conversation is really cool,” said Ervin.

Vance hopes one day, when all of this is behind us, these images will serve as a reminder of how we 'survived the pandemic.' "Capturing each person in the way they want to be portrayed during this time,” said Vance.

If you’d like more information on getting your picture taken to and to donate to the project, CLICK HERE.


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