ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. (WESH) – A Florida photographer and graphic designer is getting attention for images that look like back-to-school fashion ads featuring kids in bulletproof gear.
The advertisements aren’t real, but they do show real kids wearing real armored book bags.
“These mock-up ads aren’t that far-fetched,” said the photographer Richard Johnson.
Johnson hopes the images evoke real feelings and reactions too. He’s trying to send people a message: Let’s do something to end school shootings.
“This is not pro-gun. This is not anti-gun. This is anti children getting shot at school,” Johnson said.
Johnson created the series in his studio, working to make his art look commercial as can be.
The photos are personal to Johnson. Some feature his own kids.
“I have three kids, two of them are in school, they go through active shooter drills all the time, which is terrifying. When I grew up, that didn’t happen,” said Johnson. “I see my kids, and then I see the result of Sandy Hook and I see Pulse happening.”
Johnson said he came up with the idea for this series a year ago and after recent mass shootings, he said he’s disappointed they’re just as relevant today.
“I actually hope it makes people mad,” he said. “I hope people get mad enough so they look at it and they go, ‘well, well, fix it!'”
The photos don’t suggest any specific solutions but as they’re now online across social media, Johnson said his only goal is they cause real conversations.
“And if you don’t like them, do something about them. Make these photos irrelevant,” he said.