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Arts Issue - Connecting photographic dots

Creative minds behind @WhyILoveATL and #weloveatl tell city's story

It's a Saturday morning, and Christynne Papinack's getting ready to start her shift working in #weloveatl's pop-up gallery in Ponce City Market. Papinack, a full-time physical therapist who moved to Atlanta from New York, is probably better known by her popular Instagram handle, @WhyILoveATL. Thanks to #weloveatl, the crowd-sourced photo gallery founded by photographers Brandon Barr, Tim Moxley, Aaron Coury, and former collaborator Keith Weaver, some 10,000-plus Instagram users like Papinack have been able to help tell stories of Atlanta via cell phone cameras.

Creative Loafing sat down with Papinack, Barr, and Moxley to talk Henri Cartier-Bresson's notion of "the decisive moment," #weloveatl's curation process, and dog photos.

When you hear that phrase, "street photography," what comes to mind? Is it a negative reaction?

Tim Moxley: I think for photography, it's just natural to photograph what's on the street. So you walk around and you're inspired by what you see, and it just makes sense to photograph things that you see.

Brandon Barr: Most people don't understand the historical significance of street photography — moving all the way back to Henri Cartier-Bresson. I think for a long period ... street photography was sort of considered to be a documentary form of photography about life on the streets — candid photos of people on the streets. ... It's just become a broad term for "I take photos on the street of Atlanta." For me, it's one of the strongest and more present forms of photography.

Christynne Papinack: I think it's probably one of the more difficult forms, to capture organic moments within a moment outside. I love the city of Atlanta, but as far as street photography goes, I think it's very difficult.

In terms of Cartier-Bresson and "the decisive moment," how does #weloveatl's use of social media, specifically Instagram, lend itself to that?

TM: Talking about the decisive moment, the Bresson concept, that was a game-changer in photography. It changed the way people made photographs. I feel like people were always taking photos. I think we just gave them an outlet or a place to put them where they could add the proclamation #weloveatl, to basically describe those photos. And also, it puts them in that pool where they can look at other people's photos, and the online community starts to grow.

BB: I think it's more about the connection of those people taking photos. People have been taking photos for years, but they've been in negatives and people's shoeboxes and in art galleries, and they've never really been in the middle ground. Even with things like Flickr, there was no really close connection to people. So I think that for me, what Instagram did, and I think what we were able to capture in Atlanta, was a way to connect all those people and to really let them all see what each other is doing, and then reflect back what we thought was the best of that, which inherently then changes what people are looking for, and what they're taking photos of. I think that every time you post a fantastic skyline shot or really quirky way to look at a building, that inspires someone else who sees it to then go on their walk and look up at a building in a way that they haven't looked up at it. Every time you get someone taking a really interesting street scene in Atlanta, it maybe encourages someone to get out of the car and ride MARTA to work or to park three blocks from their job and walk in.

Christynne, is that what you're looking for when you go out and shoot —different ways to look at Atlanta?

CP: In New York everything is very condensed, everything is right there, and Atlanta is very much spread out; there's a lot of nooks and crannies. I've really enjoyed seeing other people's reaction from me just getting in these random places. Like, "That's downtown Atlanta? Where is that?" I want to find something that no one else has ever seen. I like what Brandon said; it's encouraging to walk and to get out and to find these spots. I've probably learned Atlanta better than I ever would have because I've been able to go out, and I want to try and find some neat spots to capture.

Tim and Brandon, how much of what we're talking about now goes into your curation process?

TM: We sort of have different aesthetics, and I think that's by design so that the curation process stays well-rounded and the pics stay diverse. I think for me, when I'm looking at photos, I'm looking for something that tells a story about the city, first of all. I'm obviously looking for something that has some kind of emotion or that speaks to me in a unique way that other photos, that are just slightly different, don't. I think we try to keep things diverse. We want there to be a lot of people photos. We want there to be — there's a lot of architecture, a lot of dog photos. I think that there's an idea about the city. I mean, it's a city of trees. For me, I have these themes that kind of occur over and over in my head, and when I see them, I'm sort of inclined to pick those and maybe tell that story.

BB: I think that there's just a certain kind of vibe that we all have. Like, I used to pick a lot of the street photos, photos of people. And Tim, you just sort of picked everything, and Aaron Coury picked a lot of architecture shots. But for me, it comes back to the same thing. It's telling interesting stories or uncovering interesting perspectives. There's an energy happening in town in Atlanta that permeates a lot of the work that we pick.

CP: There's been a snowball effect of just a lot more people getting involved, getting the hashtag, starting to connect. The community is coming together, and stuff like the 45 x 45 project — it's amazing how you guys have been able to give people that outlet to start connecting. And even for myself, some of the fellow Instagrammers I've been able to meet through the #weloveatl hashtag will end up being like, "Hey, are you guys shooting tonight?" It's connecting people that would not necessarily normally be connected.

BB: I think the thing that's been really gratifying for me is to see the community that we create in a very defined way. We have monthly Instameets. But then, to see groups going and shooting, or impromptu meetings at the Jackson Street Bridge, which happens tons — to see those sort of things happen, to see a lot of people go from the #weloveatl community into Instagram-suggested users and get their own big sort of followings — that to me is what's been really interesting, and I feel like that's what's been happening, particularly, in the last year. This whole movement has always been bigger than what we've set out to do, and I like the fact that it keeps spreading in crazy, random ways.



More By This Writer

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Article

Thursday October 17, 2019 01:43 pm EDT
Explore movie theaters for every film lover with everything from Oscar winners to cult classics on the big screen. | more...
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They didn’t want to start the show without him. It was March 2017, and Goldyard’s A.T. and In-Doe were standing outside of Criminal Records with a few friends on a Friday night, waiting patiently for Grip Plyaz to arrive. He’d just finished another round of cancer treatments, and the grueling schedule made moving around a strenuous task. It didn’t matter. He promised his friends he’d be there to perform their collaboration “Down4it” off of Goldyard’s third studio release, Fuck Culture 3. 

For a set performed inside a record shop, it was a raucous performance. In-Doe’s standing ponytail flapped up and down as he stomped his Jordan 13’s into the floor. Standing across from him was A.T., arms fully extended, hands flailing about with his fingers pointed down as if to say, “This is our house!” Standing between them was Grip Plyaz, tired, weak, but absolutely destroying his verse. Everyone, including the two MCs, stood watching in awe, not realizing it would be the last time the group would ever perform the song together.

Three months later, Grip Plyaz passed away from complications of the pleomorphic sarcoma he’d been fighting for two years. Like many artists in the Atlanta hip-hop community, A.T. and In-Doe were heartbroken. “I think that affected everyone if you knew him or not. You just felt the loss,” In-Doe Says. “He was ATL.”

Despite being an underground legend in Atlanta, Grip’s influence and genius were never fully appreciated until he passed. Like their friend and mentor, Goldyard’s contributions to the city’s musical fabric are often overlooked. The strength of their independently released Fuck Culture trilogy (which predated Migos’ Culture) has enabled A.T. and In-Doe to share stages with Mobb Deep, Cam’ron, Scarface, and Waka Flocka.

As Atlanta became the world’s epicenter for trap music, the duo, along with producer Flick James, found their niche as lyrically and sonically progressive rappers. The Fuck Culture series showcased Goldyard’s ability to go from flexing their machismo (“Cosby Kids”), contemplating mortality (“Die Tonight”), and embracing their rap calisthenics alongside some of the city’s best lyricists (“Mxe”).

The group’s latest release, eponymously titled Goldyard, continues their tradition of genre pushing — a tradition which has been both their gift and their curse. “We used to get in meetings with labels and they’d want to strip us from that,” A.T. says. “They’d want us to make one sound, and have us stay in one lane and focus on that sound.”

Asking Goldyard to maintain a sense of sonic tunnel vision was never something the group felt good about. After all, A.T. and In-Doe have never really adhered to the prescribed standards for what makes an artist successful in the city. “A lot of people are content just with being in the scene though there’s only a handful of artists that are really trying to push for something, and the rest are just here for show and Instagram posts,” In-Doe says.

Though the group’s roots are in Atlanta, they’re actually transplants, which is nothing new in this transient city. A.T. hails from Charlotte and In-Doe was born and raised in New York City before relocating to North Carolina where he met his partner-in-rhyme. Before ever opening for hip-hop legends, they were two kids working on music out of a house off Moreland Avenue in East Atlanta. They would walk to their shows in EAV to perform with other left field acts such as Hello Ocho and Cousin Dan. 

A.T. remembers those early aughts of Goldyard trying to establish a sound and build their brand. “I used to pay junkies to cut our grass so we could work on music then one stole the lawn mower,” he says. 

Never deterred, even by thieving drug addicts, Goldyard continued to see their fair share of change on the musical landscape. They call out Department Store being shut down, the Dungeon Family reunion at One Musicfest, A3C’s rise, and the aforementioned loss of their friend Grip Plyaz as moments that changed the city’s terrain forever.

Beyond these shifts in the music and the city itself, A.T. and In-Doe are also growing into adulthood. Both are fathers and family guys now. Partying hard has given way to shopping for car seats and attending parent-teacher conferences. Regardless, the music is never on hold. The group’s working on more new music, as well as solo projects.

For Goldyard, family has given them a clear focus.

“I feel like everything has to have a reason or explanation because I’m responsible for them now,” A.T. says. “I did everything I’ve done up to this point to be able to do what I want in life. So, I look at my two-year-old son and if he starts ridin’ to it I know it’s gon’ go.”

Goldyard plays Estoriafest on at 97 Estoria on June 23, and Union EAV on July 28."
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~~#000000:They didn’t want to start the show without him. It was March 2017, and ~~[http://www.everythingsgold.com/|~~#000000:Goldyard~~]~~#000000:’s A.T. and In-Doe were standing outside of Criminal Records with a few friends on a Friday night, waiting patiently for ~~[https://gripplyaz.bandcamp.com/|~~#000000:Grip Plyaz~~]~~#000000: to arrive. He’d just finished another round of cancer treatments, and the grueling schedule made moving around a strenuous task. It didn’t matter. He promised his friends he’d be there to perform their collaboration “Down4it” off of Goldyard’s third studio release, ~~''[https://soundcloud.com/goldyard/sets/fuck-culture-iii|~~#000000:Fuck Culture 3~~]''~~#000000:. ~~

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~~#000000:Despite being an underground legend in Atlanta, Grip’s influence and genius were never fully appreciated until he passed. Like their friend and mentor, Goldyard’s contributions to the city’s musical fabric are often overlooked. The strength of their independently released ''Fuck Culture'' trilogy (which predated Migos’ ''Culture'') has enabled A.T. and In-Doe to share stages with Mobb Deep, Cam’ron, Scarface, and Waka Flocka.~~

~~#000000:As Atlanta became the world’s epicenter for trap music, the duo, along with producer Flick James, found their niche as lyrically and sonically progressive rappers. The ''Fuck Culture'' series showcased Goldyard’s ability to go from flexing their machismo (“Cosby Kids”), contemplating mortality (“Die Tonight”), and embracing their rap calisthenics alongside some of the city’s best lyricists (“Mxe”).~~

~~#000000:The group’s latest release, eponymously titled ~~''[https://creativeloafing.com/content-301079-RECORD-REVIEW--GOLDYARD|~~#000000:Goldyard~~]''~~#000000:, continues their tradition of genre pushing — a tradition which has been both their gift and their curse. “We used to get in meetings with labels and they’d want to strip us from that,” A.T. says. “They’d want us to make one sound, and have us stay in one lane and focus on that sound.”~~

~~#000000:Asking Goldyard to maintain a sense of sonic tunnel vision was never something the group felt good about. After all, A.T. and In-Doe have never really adhered to the prescribed standards for what makes an artist successful in the city. “A lot of people are content just with being in the scene though there’s only a handful of artists that are really trying to push for something, and the rest are just here for show and Instagram posts,” In-Doe says.~~

~~#000000:Though the group’s roots are in Atlanta, they’re actually transplants, which is nothing new in this transient city. A.T. hails from Charlotte and In-Doe was born and raised in New York City before relocating to North Carolina where he met his partner-in-rhyme. Before ever opening for hip-hop legends, they were two kids working on music out of a house off Moreland Avenue in East Atlanta. They would walk to their shows in EAV to perform with other left field acts such as Hello Ocho and Cousin Dan. ~~

~~#000000:A.T. remembers those early aughts of Goldyard trying to establish a sound and build their brand. “I used to pay junkies to cut our grass so we could work on music then one stole the lawn mower,” he says. ~~

~~#000000:Never deterred, even by thieving drug addicts, Goldyard continued to see their fair share of change on the musical landscape. They call out Department Store being shut down, the Dungeon Family reunion at One Musicfest, A3C’s rise, and the aforementioned loss of their friend Grip Plyaz as moments that changed the city’s terrain forever.~~

~~#000000:Beyond these shifts in the music and the city itself, A.T. and In-Doe are also growing into adulthood. Both are fathers and family guys now. Partying hard has given way to shopping for car seats and attending parent-teacher conferences. Regardless, the music is never on hold. The group’s working on more new music, as well as solo projects.~~

~~#000000:For Goldyard, family has given them a clear focus.~~

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They didn’t want to start the show without him. It was March 2017, and Goldyard’s A.T. and In-Doe were standing outside of Criminal Records with a few friends on a Friday night, waiting patiently for Grip Plyaz to arrive. He’d just finished another round of cancer treatments, and the grueling schedule made moving around a strenuous task. It didn’t matter. He promised his friends he’d be there to perform their collaboration “Down4it” off of Goldyard’s third studio release, Fuck Culture 3. 

For a set performed inside a record shop, it was a raucous performance. In-Doe’s standing ponytail flapped up and down as he stomped his Jordan 13’s into the floor. Standing across from him was A.T., arms fully extended, hands flailing about with his fingers pointed down as if to say, “This is our house!” Standing between them was Grip Plyaz, tired, weak, but absolutely destroying his verse. Everyone, including the two MCs, stood watching in awe, not realizing it would be the last time the group would ever perform the song together.

Three months later, Grip Plyaz passed away from complications of the pleomorphic sarcoma he’d been fighting for two years. Like many artists in the Atlanta hip-hop community, A.T. and In-Doe were heartbroken. “I think that affected everyone if you knew him or not. You just felt the loss,” In-Doe Says. “He was ATL.”

Despite being an underground legend in Atlanta, Grip’s influence and genius were never fully appreciated until he passed. Like their friend and mentor, Goldyard’s contributions to the city’s musical fabric are often overlooked. The strength of their independently released Fuck Culture trilogy (which predated Migos’ Culture) has enabled A.T. and In-Doe to share stages with Mobb Deep, Cam’ron, Scarface, and Waka Flocka.

As Atlanta became the world’s epicenter for trap music, the duo, along with producer Flick James, found their niche as lyrically and sonically progressive rappers. The Fuck Culture series showcased Goldyard’s ability to go from flexing their machismo (“Cosby Kids”), contemplating mortality (“Die Tonight”), and embracing their rap calisthenics alongside some of the city’s best lyricists (“Mxe”).

The group’s latest release, eponymously titled Goldyard, continues their tradition of genre pushing — a tradition which has been both their gift and their curse. “We used to get in meetings with labels and they’d want to strip us from that,” A.T. says. “They’d want us to make one sound, and have us stay in one lane and focus on that sound.”

Asking Goldyard to maintain a sense of sonic tunnel vision was never something the group felt good about. After all, A.T. and In-Doe have never really adhered to the prescribed standards for what makes an artist successful in the city. “A lot of people are content just with being in the scene though there’s only a handful of artists that are really trying to push for something, and the rest are just here for show and Instagram posts,” In-Doe says.

Though the group’s roots are in Atlanta, they’re actually transplants, which is nothing new in this transient city. A.T. hails from Charlotte and In-Doe was born and raised in New York City before relocating to North Carolina where he met his partner-in-rhyme. Before ever opening for hip-hop legends, they were two kids working on music out of a house off Moreland Avenue in East Atlanta. They would walk to their shows in EAV to perform with other left field acts such as Hello Ocho and Cousin Dan. 

A.T. remembers those early aughts of Goldyard trying to establish a sound and build their brand. “I used to pay junkies to cut our grass so we could work on music then one stole the lawn mower,” he says. 

Never deterred, even by thieving drug addicts, Goldyard continued to see their fair share of change on the musical landscape. They call out Department Store being shut down, the Dungeon Family reunion at One Musicfest, A3C’s rise, and the aforementioned loss of their friend Grip Plyaz as moments that changed the city’s terrain forever.

Beyond these shifts in the music and the city itself, A.T. and In-Doe are also growing into adulthood. Both are fathers and family guys now. Partying hard has given way to shopping for car seats and attending parent-teacher conferences. Regardless, the music is never on hold. The group’s working on more new music, as well as solo projects.

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“I feel like everything has to have a reason or explanation because I’m responsible for them now,” A.T. says. “I did everything I’ve done up to this point to be able to do what I want in life. So, I look at my two-year-old son and if he starts ridin’ to it I know it’s gon’ go.”

Goldyard plays Estoriafest on at 97 Estoria on June 23, and Union EAV on July 28.    J. Raff (@jraffshoots) BIRDWATCHING: Goldyard's A.T. (from left) and In-Doe have never adhered to hip-hop formulas.                                   Goldyard grows up "
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Friday June 15, 2018 11:56 am EDT
MCs A.T. and In-Doe reflect on loss, change, and family | more...
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Thursday November 2, 2017 05:55 pm EDT
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Tuesday October 17, 2017 12:52 pm EDT
The self-proclaimed purveyor of 'bubblegum trap' has become a fixture of Atlanta culture | more...
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Monday March 20, 2017 05:49 pm EDT
Toph Taylor's sophomore album, 'Rennen,' tempers soul-synth sounds with vocal talents | more...
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