By Holly Pilcavage - For Weekender

The NEPA Creative Series: Wyoming couple uses photography to inspire teens

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High school senior Alicia Costello, who shot this picture, wrote on the program website that she views photography as way to ‘tell a story of places you want to be (at) or have been.’
Alicia Costello | Submitted photo
Valerie Soto, who shot this picture, said she wants her photos to be ‘thought-provoking and to reflect (her) spontaneous-humorous side,’ according to the program’s website.
Valerie Soto | Submitted photo
This photo was taken by Eileen Cruz, a 16-year old who moved to the area from the Dominican Republic, according to the program’s website.
Eileen Cruz | Submitted photo
Jamie Smith and his wife, Jenni, founded the Social Fabric Collective in Wyoming, a diverse photography program for teenagers.
Courtesy of CoalCreative

Jamie Smith of Wyoming is the 21st #NEPACreative of 2017. Smith brings creativity to the area through the Social Fabric Collective — a nonprofit organization that provides professional photography equipment, education and inspiration to high school students who are as diverse as they are dynamic.

Smith holds a degree in art studio from the University of California at Santa Barbara and began his photography career in the late 1990s as a freelance photojournalist for the Times Leader. A few years later, he began teaching and producing photography workshops in New York City with participants from over 35 countries.

In 2015, he and his wife, Jenni Smith, relocated to Northeastern Pennsylvania, where they launched The Social Fabric Collective.

“Both of us had satisfying careers focused on developing programs that helped entrepreneurs, business leaders and artists increase their sense of competence and engagement,” Smith said. “As we settled into our new community, we focused on using our skills and experience to develop a program for teens that would increase their sense of empowerment through photography.”

For 14 weeks, Social Fabric Collective students engage in an intensive series of small group workshops, creative assignments, speaker seminars, field trips and volunteer projects that challenge them to reach both inward and outward as they examine their surroundings and each other through photography.

Students are equipped with state-of-the-art cameras and workstations. They are inspired by experienced professionals and they are taught from a rigorous curriculum that gives them the freedom and the framework to uncover new passions, contemplate new perspectives and realize their individual and collective significance.

According to the Smiths’ synopsis of the program, “At their final exhibition gala, drawn together by images that are raw, beautiful, tragic, joyous — students understand why we say that photography is just the medium. By using the camera as a catalyst for discussion and discovery, we empower the next generation to take on tomorrow with empathy, authenticity, conviction and courage. Their experience and photographs strengthen the social fabric that will secure a better world.”

For more information about The Social Fabric Collective, including fall 2017 Scholarships, visit socialfabriccollective.org.

When being considered as an NEPA Creative, individuals are asked to explain how they bring creativity to the area, how long they have been doing it and why, and finally what being creative means to them. Once chosen, the next step is to bring each creative into CoalCreative’s studio space to be filmed for a 60 second video that is shared every Wednesday across all their social media platforms. The series plans to highlight all sorts of creatives throughout the rest of the year. There are no limits to who could be considered. Photographers, musicians, barbers, magicians and improv artists are just a handful of the submissions CoalCreative has received thus far.

High school senior Alicia Costello, who shot this picture, wrote on the program website that she views photography as way to ‘tell a story of places you want to be (at) or have been.’
https://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_Alicia-Costello.jpgHigh school senior Alicia Costello, who shot this picture, wrote on the program website that she views photography as way to ‘tell a story of places you want to be (at) or have been.’ Alicia Costello | Submitted photo

https://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_Imani-Lane.jpgImani Lane | Submitted photo

Valerie Soto, who shot this picture, said she wants her photos to be ‘thought-provoking and to reflect (her) spontaneous-humorous side,’ according to the program’s website.
https://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_Valerie-Soto.jpgValerie Soto, who shot this picture, said she wants her photos to be ‘thought-provoking and to reflect (her) spontaneous-humorous side,’ according to the program’s website. Valerie Soto | Submitted photo

This photo was taken by Eileen Cruz, a 16-year old who moved to the area from the Dominican Republic, according to the program’s website.
https://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_Eileen-Cruz.jpgThis photo was taken by Eileen Cruz, a 16-year old who moved to the area from the Dominican Republic, according to the program’s website. Eileen Cruz | Submitted photo

Jamie Smith and his wife, Jenni, founded the Social Fabric Collective in Wyoming, a diverse photography program for teenagers.
https://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_Jamie-Smith.jpgJamie Smith and his wife, Jenni, founded the Social Fabric Collective in Wyoming, a diverse photography program for teenagers. Courtesy of CoalCreative
Wyoming coupleuses photographyto inspire teens

By Holly Pilcavage

For Weekender

To be considered for the series, submit a consideration form at www.coalcreative.com/are-you-a-nepa-creative or send an email to [email protected]

To be considered for the series, submit a consideration form at www.coalcreative.com/are-you-a-nepa-creative or send an email to [email protected]