PlatteForum’s latest show features the work of a rising star in the Denver street photography scene — and his mentees
Anthony Maes mentored high schoolers for six weeks teaching them about street photography. Their work is now on display together.
Three framed photographs leaned against the blank white walls of PlatteForum (2700 Arapahoe St) while Anthony Maes nervously posed for a portrait. The Denver photographer wasn’t quite sure what to do with his hands, where to plant his feet or where to start as he prepared his upcoming Month of Photography show.
Maes’ work has floated around the Denver street photography scene for a few years, including most notably shooting the album cover for Denver rapper TheyCallHimAP‘s 2022 album “Losses.”
His new show, “Generations,” features the work of ArtLab interns that Maes mentored for the past six weeks. He taught the kids different photo techniques and theory during that time, as they critiqued each other’s work and got a feel for working a camera with their own hands.
The show opened last week will be on display through March 31 and is available by appointment only by contacting email@example.com.
Founded in 2002, PlatteForum is an award-winning urban art and activism lab where established artists are invited to work side by side with young high school students.
The concept of “Generations” is built around the idea of bringing up a new generation of photographers, similar to how Maes began his own creative career.
“I don’t ever consider myself a teacher. I just tried to show them what I’ve learned cause I got passed the torch and this was like passing the torch to them,” Maes said.
“I just wanted them to be able to create their own style. It was just so cool to see their faces and see everything come to life. I’m super proud of the kids and seeing young people create. It was a beautiful experience. I loved it.”
Maes’ first time behind the camera was at Denver’s Fort Greene Bar.
“My friend was a DJ and he threw parties at Fort Greene. One day he just threw me the camera. That’s when I got the bug. I just went crazy,” Maes said.
The Denver local has since developed a full-time career specializing in concert, event and portrait photography. He’s captured artists like Smino, Steve Lacy and Kehlani to name a few. He’s hosted free family portrait events for community members in Swansea Park and he’s helped organize Denver Photo Swap, a community for local Denver photographers to network.
Maes credited local creatives Armando Geneyro, Jose Domingo (also known as 3rd Division) and Blake Jackson as some of the early mentors that helped him get into the industry.
“I was just hanging out in those circles that Armando and 3rd hung out in. When I first started shooting I was inspired by their work. I was asking a lot of questions and soaking up all the information that I could. I saw the way they were documenting my city. I’m born and raised in Denver and so I felt like I had to make my own imprint on my city.”
When asked to describe some of the photos that visitors would see in “Generation,” Maes starts by adding in a disclaimer.
“I always say the words ‘say less’ when it comes to my work. I have a vision of what I see, but I really think it’s up to the viewer to see what they see,” Maes said. Capturing people was a central focus of the show, which is similar to the work that Maes produces.
“I think it’s huge to just document people for others to see how we’re all connected,” Maes said. “That’s what I encouraged the students to capture.”
Maes says he’s still learning and figuring his way out on the creative scene.
“In retrospect, it really hasn’t been that long. I’m still a rookie of the game too and I have my whole life to go. So to see them be at a point that I once was, having their own special moment, that’s what it’s all about. We’re all just artists creating.”
Maes will be one of the featured photographers at Cerveceria Colorado’s (1635 Platte St) Mi Vida Release Party & Photography Show alongside Armando Geneyro, Manuel Aragon and Jose Domingo (3rd Division).
“I’m just trying to go crazy. I’m just getting started.”