Arts

Photographer Finds His Focus In ‘Black Lives Matter’ Protest

''Black Lives Matter'' -- This image was taken at a 2014 rally in downtown Atlanta. It appeared on the cover of Creative Loafing.
''Black Lives Matter'' -- This image was taken at a 2014 rally in downtown Atlanta. It appeared on the cover of Creative Loafing.
Credit Julian Plowden

Audio of this interview

The “Black Lives Matter” campaign that’s arisen to protest publicized incidents of police brutality has itself changed lives, sometimes in dramatic ways.

That can certainly be said of Kennesaw State University student Julian PlowdenThe 22-year-old just happened to bring his camera to the Aug. 18, 2014, rally and march in downtown Atlanta, held to protest the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The photographs he took that stormy day made waves in activist and artistic communities around the country and beyond.

One photo, featuring a toddler sitting on her father’s shoulders, raising her hand in what appears to be a black power salute, appeared on the cover of Creative Loafing. Others have been shown at galleries across the country and were collected by Emory University’s MARBL Collection, and this summer, a photo pictured in the attached slideshow won an award that garnered it a spot in a recent exhibition at the Louvre in France.

The year since last August’s march has become something of a crash course in activist photography for Plowden, with visits to colleges, galleries and protests across the nation.

But it turns out that at the march that first inspired him, he almost didn’t take any photos at all.

In this conversation one year later, he talks about what made him change his mind. He also tells the stories behind some of his photos and talks about how life has changed since that day.

In this Web bonus, Plowden talks about how his photograph “Bus 58,” pictured in the attached slideshow, came to be.

Web bonus audio from this interview