( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Hedva and Dan Zeevi of hedvANDan Photography create Bring Back, Give Back Project for Local Business and First Responders
ENSPIRE Contributor: Lucas Raskin
Nobody was spared from the onset of COVID-19. As America found its footing and millions took refuge in their homes, essential workers and volunteers bravely stemmed the tide of the pandemic. You may have seen hospital workers, people delivering food, or maybe just your local deli staying open. The many people who have been working tirelessly to make sure that we come out of COVID in one piece often have their stories unheard, which is why this Riverdale, Bronx couple have been using their professional photography experience to help local business owners and essential workers express themselves and the work that they’ve been doing throughout the pandemic.
Dan and Hedva Zeevi are full-time photographers. Their business, hedvANDan Photography, under normal circumstances, does family portraits, bar mitzvahs, parties, and other special events that typically involve professional photos. Yet, like all small business owners, they’ve been rocked by the onset of COVID, particularly because Hedva had just left her job as a teacher, making this the first year that they both worked full time on the company. Amid personal strain and stress, they saw great displays of courage from local business owners and volunteers. As Orthodox Jews, they were deeply touched when their local Kosher market stayed open during Passover. They asked themselves what they could do to give back to the Riverdale community, creating the Bring Back, Give Back project.
The project has 2 purposes. It both helps bring back businesses with free professional photoshoots to get the word out that they are staying open, and it gives the world a chance to thank them and see the challenges that they’ve faced. By working around what time is best for the client and making their session as unique as possible, these free photoshoots make sure that these heroes feel celebrated. “Our hope is to bring more of the personality of the person and the shop to make it as them as possible.” Clients also write about themselves to accompany their photos on the project’s Facebook page.
The subjects can range from a local restaurant to a couple who juggles having 4 kids and working at the hospital. “It just kinda stops you in your tracks. You hear about what’s going on in the news, and then to hear about it first hand is very different.” The project gives individuals troubling stories concerning the pandemic much deserved attention and validation. On Hedva and Dan’s first shoot for the project, they followed a local pizza store’s delivery route to a local hospital, and then also ended up taking a few shots of the hospital staff. The duo aims for flexible shoots like this to highlight both ends of the project; giving attention to the measures that the local pizza shop is taking to remain open, while also showing gratitude to nurses and doctors.
“When you speak to people it’s incredible how hard this was for everyone and how positive they are able to see things. That genuine feeling of positivity really inspires us.” Only a united recovery can address the universal anguish of COVID. Consider the many ways that you can let essential workers and your local business owners know that you appreciate the effort that they are putting in to stay up and running during this time of adversity. Visit the Bring Back Give Back website and Facebook to meet the brave Riverdale locals keeping the community afloat.