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Natalie's Everyday Heroes: Abbie Miller photographs families from a distance during pandemic

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WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The COVID-19 pandemic is something most people will never forget. That fact gave photographer Abbie Miller an idea.

“I just wanted to spread a little joy, if nothing else, just momentary,” Miller said.

A few weeks ago, before the safer at home order went into effect, while people were starting to self-quarantine, Miller put out a message to her neighbors in Wauwatosa.

“In our neighborhood message board, I said, this photo can go in your time capsule for the coronavirus. Like, you'll always have this photo,” she said.

She sent up dates and times, and with a map of homes her husband had plotted, Miller went out into the neighborhood and took 50 family portraits—from a safe distance, of course.

“Don't dress up. Don't put make up on, if you haven't been wearing make-up,” she told her neighbors. “Like just come out. Maybe put clean pajama pants on.’

Miller, who owns Stories Framed Photography, wasn’t looking for anything fancy. She wanted to capture what is real about families all at home together.

“I really wanted to capture what was happening and how they looked right then,” she said.

And from the looks on people’s faces, she did just that. She took photos of a lot of smiling kids, pets and people in pajamas. Looking through the family photos, there’s a face familiar to CBS 58 viewers. Chief meteorologist Drew Burgoyne and his family had their photo taken.

His wife, Adrienne Burgoyne, said they grabbed their two dogs, Allie and Brady, and posed for their picture.

“I was laughing in my picture because I was like, this is crazy we're even doing this,” Burgoyne said.

She also noted that because of social distancing practices, she hasn’t been able to thank Miller for the photo in person.

“She was out by her car. She never even came into our yard,” she said. “So we were kind of yelling from the porch to her.”

But Burgoyne does have an idea of what Miller should do with the finished photos.

“I told Abbie, I said, you guys could make a book out of this, just a photo book,” she said.

Miller also had some surprises up her sleeve for seniors she had photographed for their senior pictures. She put out surprise yard signs in their front yards.

“I had been feeling really bad for these kids,” Miller said. “They got the second half of their senior year, these last moments of high school, just ripped out from underneath them.”

But now, they’ll all have photos to remember this unforgettable time.

“That's all I'm trying to do. It's not much, but it's just a little something,” Miller said.

Miller said some people from the neighborhood have expressed regret they missed the front yard photo shoots. Miller said she’ll be going back out, once it’s safe to do so.

Burgoyne said she’ll have some new clients when this is all over.

“I told her, we're going to schedule real photos with you when this is all over, because we haven't had that done in a long time,” Burgoyne said.

Miller gave each family she photographed a free digital copy of their photograph. To find out more about her studio, just visit https://www.storiesframed.com/.

If you’d like to nominate someone for Natalie’s Everyday Heroes, send Natalie an email at nshepherd@cbs58.com.

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