On my daily, socially distanced walk one night, I stumbled across not one, but five porch concerts within a quarter-mile radius of my home. Here’s the thing about Nashville: you can keep us apart, but you can’t keep us from loving each other the best way we know how — with music!
One of the world’s most musical cities became the backdrop for a recent portrait project completed by Nashville-based Abigail Bobo, author of the heartwarming quote above. If her interactions with her neighbors are any indication, these people aren’t just great musicians — they’re funny as well.
Neighbors were camped out 10-20 feet from each other, refusing to let social distance mean social isolation. “Y’all stay back, or y’all might kill me. I’m too old!” joked one entertainer. Another started a full-on block party with neighbors standing ten feet apart and cheerily bellowing at each other as guitar music filled the street.
So, Abigail started taking her camera along for the daily walks, capturing imagery of a community coming together during an unpredictable time. When AARP saw her original photos in an emailer, they commissioned her to create more for their social media pages.
In the following weeks, I learned that my neighborhood was coming alive with incredible stories. Neighbors were leaving chalk words of encouragement and “happy birthday” notes on sidewalks. Friends were having drinks spread apart during cocktail hour after zoom-call work. Others were taking walks, gardening, and cycling with friends.
As an effort to spread some encouragement, I sent a few images out in an email blast letting people know that good stories are still happening. My friends at AARP, who are always forward-thinking and innovative storytellers, recognized that it was beautiful, commissionable, and encouraging work. They asked me to shoot a few images for their Instagram.
Abigail has been working with AARP for a few months, building up a rapport over several shoots and giving the photographer tons of creative freedom along the way. Good thing, too, because where she lives, everyone needs to be creative in the same way they need fresh air to breathe.
Nashville has always been a friendly place and people look out for each other. We are in the middle of the “Volunteer State,” so when a crisis strikes, we are all hands on deck. My neighbors have been looking for ways to reach out to others without getting close. I’ve seen outdoor yoga, prayer groups, front porch concerts, and beautiful chalk art.
I think we are still working, even in a chaotic time. It’s encouraging to see how people are finding creative solutions to a difficult scenario!
See more of Abigail’s work at abigailbobo.com.
Explore our other great photographers on our Find Photographers page!