Local Photographer Honors Essential Workers


by Terry Rogers

 Two social media posts by friends working in healthcare prompted John Mollura to jump into an idea he had been toying with for some time, doing portraits via video. The idea came to him after a portrait session with an American Idol contestant was cancelled due to the virus. Mollura considered doing the session via video but then put the idea on hold.

“Then I read posts from my friends that made me stop and think,” Mollura said. “One said she refused to sleep in the same room as her husband after treating COVID-19 patients. Another was afraid to hug her husband or children. That got to me and I started thinking about this video portrait thing.”

Mollura mentioned the idea to his assistant, Claire, who was celebrating her first year of sobriety. Because Claire was also a photographer, the two decided to start playing with the portraits by video idea to celebrate her first anniversary of sobriety.

“What developed was some really cool photographs,” Mollura said. “So, those two posts kept coming into my mind. The day after Claire and I did our session was Easter. I was doing something mundane like mowing the lawn or something and I started thinking about the sacrifices of healthcare workers. There are lots of great people doing lots of great things. I didn’t just want to focus on the negative, though, so I decided to look at some of the positive things they were doing. That was how I came up with the name.”

The ”Sacrifice and Light” project is designed to highlight healthcare workers who are not only working long hours during the pandemic but could be putting themselves at risk for contracting the virus. Mollura wants to emphasize that the project is not just for doctors and nurses.

“It is for anyone working in healthcare,” Mollura said. “It is for receptionists, custodians, anyone who is putting their own lives on the line to treat people. It is not just for the Milford area either. We want to highlight anyone in healthcare and I would love to see this go nationwide. Because this is done over video chat, we can create portraits from anywhere.”

Mollura is also working with artists who are creating frames for the photos. Using a white canvas, Mollura can project original artwork on the surface to add unique frames to the portraits he creates. He believes this will help promote Milford’s art community due to the multi-disciplined approach.

In addition to the “Sacrifice and Light” project, Mollura has also been hosting a Milford Community Lens page on Facebook for the past two years. It began as a monthly photo walk where he had residents walk around and take photos related to a theme he posted. He was planning to create the Summer 2020 subject list when the pandemic began.

“I wanted to keep it going but I knew we had to make some adjustments because of the quarantines and closures,” Mollura said. “I decided to start doing it every day and it exploded. We now have over 200 members. Jenn Rowan of Lifecycle offered to take over on Fridays to give me a break because this has grown so popular. This summer, we hope to have a few guest hosts providing some of the subject matter. It is a positive thing we can do during this trying time.”

The Milford Community Lens page can be found on Facebook and anyone who wants to participate simply needs to join the group. Despite its name, the page is not strictly for people in Milford and Mollura hopes that people from around the world will contribute. He also believes that as the group grows, the art community in Milford will be promoted globally. Anyone who is interested in being part of the “Sacrifice and Light” project can go to the Facebook page where there is a “Book Now” button. That will take them to the scheduling page where they can provide details for a video session.