Montclair High School student Corinna Davis sat on the bed in her childhood bedroom, next to her childhood teddy bear and talked to local resident and photographer Kate Albright about the devastation of the Parkland shooting.
Albright, a mother of four, gets choked up recounting the experience with Davis – the first subject of her photo series profiling inspiring local teens in the gun reform movement.
On February 14, 2018, 14 high school students just like Davis never got the chance to return home from school and sleep next to their childhood teddy bears.
Now, local high school students are taking a stand, and Albright has been there to document it all through her Teens Lead photo series.
“I was inspired by the Parkland teens in this movement and I knew we had some of our own wonderfully inspiring teens in Montclair and surrounding areas so I wanted to profile them,” Albright said. “For one, to create more inspiration for other teens and adults alike, and two, because I think when we adults take them seriously, they take themselves more seriously as well, so I think it encourages them to continue on working as they’re doing and making progress in something that is important to them.”
Davis knew students locally who had gone to summer camp with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. When she learned what happened, Davis told Albright she had to fight the urge to “flee into the woods and wait for everything to burn to the ground.” Instead, within a few days, Davis helped create Students Demand Action Essex County and successfully assisted in organizing the largely successful March 14th Walkout To End Gun Violence at MHS.
“It’s really touching to me to see what kids of this age can accomplish,” Albright said. “(When I was a teen), I didn’t think about activism, I didn’t think about the world the way these kids are thinking about it. They’re really in tune with what’s happening which I think is so fantastic because they are our future leaders.”
Since her profile on Davis, Albright has profiled eight other MHS students involved in the movement to end gun violence. Albright connects with the students by conducting a 20-30 minute interview, followed by their photo shoot.
“I found it touching where each one of them ended up wanting to meet,” Albright said. “One of the girls that I’m working on writing about right now wanted to meet at the Montclair Art Museum to take a picture by the metallic text bubble sculpture… she wanted to take a picture inside of the text bubble because she feels strongly in the strength of technology that teenagers use to make a difference, so I thought that was really cool.”
The most recent profile was of MHS senior Emily Springer who took Albright to the Montclair Book Center because she likes to buy jazz records there.
While Albright’s photo series is an active way to give a voice to local students who want to make a difference, she is excited about the discussions that have already been sparked on social media.
“I just love the conversation that’s come from it and that’s a big goal of mine, just to have this conversation that continues,” Albright said. “(People) get to see what these kids are doing and the kids get to see what others are doing.”
To see Albright’s full Teens Lead photo series, visit her website at https://www.katealbrightphoto.net/teens-lead/ or follow her on Instagram kate_albright.