Philadelphia photographer prints social justice art book for charity

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WPVI) — “We’re all gonna be talking about 2020 and what happened for decades,” said photographer Matt Barber. “These are images that capture what’s really happening in your community.”

The camera-clad Philadelphian was among thousands of protesters filling the streets in June of 2020 following the death of George Floyd.

“I took so many photos back in June, and I thought for the longest time, what should I do with this?” he asked.

Barber, a South Philadelphia native, called an illustrator, Halimah Smith, from Northwest Philadelphia, to collaborate on a project. The dynamic duo produced an art book titled, “PHL Black Lives Matter.”

“I think the book really does a good job of telling a story of people who are fed up,” said Smith. “They want change and they want it now.”

The book, which can be purchased on Barber’s website for $20, is forwarding all of its proceeds to Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity.

“Our mission is basically to provide just outcomes for people who have had contact with the Pennsylvania criminal justice system,” said Taylor Pacheco, a staff attorney with PLSE.

“This is your neighbor. This is your cousin, this is your uncle. Maybe it’s you, sometimes they’ve made mistakes,” she said. “Most of them have moved past those mistakes and they’re now trying to live and they can’t.”

According to PLSE, even minor criminal offenses can affect one’s ability to get a job, start a business, or enroll in school. And that’s hurting Philadelphians who are trying to turn a new leaf and re-enter society.

“A lot of what we do, uplift black and brown communities because those are the communities that are hit hardest,” said Pacheco.

Barber and Smith hope their book continues to shed light on social justice within the city. They encourage all artists to devote their talents to a proper cause.

Everybody’s a photographer now, too,” said Barber. “Anyone can do it.”

To learn more, catch up with the artists on Instagram @matthewscottbarber and @artpce.

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