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Blackpool’s Whipper Snappers & Their Hot Shots

If you attended SpareParts Festival last weekend you may have noticed 6 young photographers with various lenses attached to their eager little faces, meandering through the crowds, twisting themselves into interesting shapes and getting up close and personal to all the artistic wonders that came together to make up Tram Sunday. These enthusiastic young people have been attending the cleverly named Whipper Snappers Workshops facilitated by seasoned Blackpool based photographers Jill Reidy and Claire Griffiths.

Jill and Claire describe their workshops as a “Blackpool and Lancashire based project supporting young photographers.” The aim of the project is to engage young people in the art of photography, building confidence, encouraging communication and fostering creativity in the process. The workshops are supported by LeftCoast; an organisation responsible for bringing many creative arts based programmes to the local communities of Blackpool and the Wyre.

The weekly Whipper Snapper workshops have been held both indoors and outdoors and have each focused on a different topic beginning with the basic functions and features of the modern day camera and eventually centring on theme based shooting, such as portraits and architecture. Finally, the group learned how to arrange their own exhibitions. The SpareParts festival was the culmination of this month long project.

The Tram Sunday workshop commenced with a team briefing, 10:00 a.m. sharp at The Mount in Fleetwood. Each young photographer was given a specific event or area of the festival to shoot. Jill and Claire delivered a final mentor session, giving tips and pointers and they all dispersed onto the scene like a proper team of professional photographers. Throughout the festival the youth could be seen excitedly “checking in” with Jill and Claire and giving updates on what they’ve shot and what they plan on shooting next. The excitement was palpable, but what was most remarkable was the clear confidence and ease the children demonstrated as they identified potential shots and stepped into their “creative zone,” trying different angles and points of view.

Following each session the children have been submitting their shots for uploading onto the Whipper Snappers blog which can be found here. They’ve also been updating the Facebook page, keeping the local community and their parents involved in the project. The blog and Facebook page will continue on as a creative legacy of the project.

The Whipper Snappers workshops have been a resounding success. The professional photographers, Jill Reidy and Claire Griffiths, are more than pleased with the outcome and very much looking forward to sharing the youth’s photographs at a public exhibition to be announced soon. The young people are ecstatic with the new skills they’ve learned, and judging by the comments on the Facebook page, the parents are clearly proud and delighted to see their children positively engaging with their peers about the Arts in the local area. As one proud mum, Jo Harley-Hynes posts, “What a fantastic opportunity for youngsters to get that step onto the creative ladder – and for that to be such fun and relevant to where they live has been just amazing. I truly hope that this is just the very start of this workshop and it goes on to be even bigger because if so I can honestly see amazing young talent nurtured and emerging from our Coast.”

I expect we’ll see more and more enthusiastic Whipper Snappers graduating onto the scene with their creative shots and fresh ideas in the future. Are you listening, LeftCoast? We have every confidence that this project, whose bones are deeply embedded in the creative principles that organisations like LifeCoast are built on, will be awarded the funding to continue lighting that creative spark in the talented young people of Blackpool and Wyre.

Featured image courtesy of CJGriffiths Photography.

  • Tammara is an American writer and poet living in Lancashire who is interested in all things creative. Current projects include a manuscript of prose poems that explore place, race, femininity, poverty, and motherhood; profiles of new and emerging artists; and freelance articles and reviews concerned with the art scene in the Northwest of England.

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