How a celebrity photographer is helping N.J.’s class of 2020 mark the moment

person wearing graduation gear with Canine Companions service dog over her lap
Long Branch, NJ

Melanie Luebs put on her cap and gown, plugged her computer into the TV and settled in to watch the virtual graduation with her family. When her name came on screen, they slowed down the action to cheer and savor the moment. It was by no means the ceremony they had envisioned over the last four years. But just a day earlier, the University of Colorado graduate got a chance to make some memories of the procession that never was — at home. Jennifer Pottheiser, a commercial photographer and Canine Companions volunteer puppy raiser who has worked with athletes and celebrities — from Drake and Taylor Swift to Serena Williams and LeBron James — stopped by Luebs’ Long Branch house for a project on the college class of 2020. Luebs, who uses a wheelchair, posed in front of the house with her family and service dog, Laramie, surrounded by signs and banners marking her achievement. Pottheiser’s project, which respects social distancing norms, embraces the stoop portraiture genre of photography that has become popular during the coronavirus pandemic. Her pictures not only commemorate the milestone, but also chronicle the remarkable time in which college graduates find themselves heading for the next phase of life. “I think people are so excited to have a way to celebrate their graduate,” she tells NJ Advance Media. “… Having the photos just kind of makes it real.”

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NJ Advance Media