Aida, Bryce, Colin, Earicka, Hasina, Jade, Jalin, Lauren, Nate and Ruth –sixth, seventh, and eighth graders from Sutton Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia – share a love for photography.
In fall 2015 they spent seven weekends exploring a 150-year-old industrial complex equipped with a box of film and an Instax camera studying the art of capturing an image. They were able to do this due to the Future Photomakers initiative, a project focused on the lack of arts funding in Georgia and dedicated to inspiring a new generation of creative individuals. Program creators Tim Lampe and Keith Weaver explain, "Future Photomakers emerged out of a need that we saw in Atlanta public school arts funding which has been drastically decreasing for years. It’s no secret that the state of Georgia sits at the bottom of the pile in this category and that there is an incredible need for children’s art programming."
Georgia gives less per resident to the arts in public funding than any other state – about 6 cents for students. Other Southern states like South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee give 63 cents, 61 cents, 82 cents and $1.07, respectively. Knowing this, Lampe and Weaver submitted a proposal to the VSCO Artist Initiative in 2014. They reached out to Sutton art teacher Erin Ray after receiving funding and support and over a month she helped them to find the twelve students who would make up the first group of Future Photomakers. The group worked in Atlanta’s Goat Farm Arts Center, learning the tricks of the photography trade for three hours every week.
On March 6th the Future Photomakers are showcasing their work. There will be an exhibition at the Goat Farm and the photos will be on view and on sale. The proceeds will be used to fund future projects for the Sutton art program. Though the twelve person group seems to be dwarfed by the 51,500 students enrolled in Atlanta public schools, Lampe and Weaver know this is just the beginning. As they said, "In our own small way we want to make a difference in the lives of kids and pass along our passion for photography and storytelling to this next generation of image makers. Our goal was to inspire these kids to pick up a camera, make pictures, have fun, and share their world. The program was a huge success and now we're excited to celebrate that collective work and the creativity of each of these wonderful kids."
A few works by the Photomakers are below. For more information on the March 6 exhibition, check out the event page on Facebook.