Window portraits highlight COVID-19 challenges with humor

By Paul Hughes U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart. Photos courtesy Kristen Benda.

STUTTGART – Community member Kristen Benda desired to help fight against COVID-19 within her field of nursing, but couldn’t.

Instead, she got creative, using her outgoing personality, a ladder and a telephoto lens.

“Even though I am a nurse, I was unable to join the fight,” Benda said. “With two high-risk children I couldn’t do anything on the front lines.”

Determined to support her neighbors at U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, Bender turned to another passion, photography. She gained inspiration from images she saw back home and asked for volunteer families to participate in a window portrait project.

“If I can do something to spread love and not the virus, then I want to bring some light to this dark time” Benda said.

After receiving an overwhelming response from her first photos, a couple of evenings of shoots turned into two weeks of work. Benda labored during long weekends and hours to ensure as many families as possible —including mission essential personnel — were involved.

Benda receives no payment for the images, and any families that insisted were asked to donate money to charities instead, including one that is making face masks.

“I realized that I photographed at least one family from each branch of service here, even the Coast Guard,” Benda said. “I think the photos demonstrate how each family went all in to show how COVID-19 has affected them.”