Altamonte Springs, Fl. (CNN Newsource) — 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 photographer and graphic designer, Richard Johnson, is trying to send a message: let’s do something to end school shootings.
Gleeful kids, sporting smiles in back-to-school sale ads, along with all the gear they need to be ready for another year, including bullet proof vests and backpacks.
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,” Johnson said.
He hopes they evoke real feelings, and reactions too.
“This is not pro-gun, this is not anti-gun — this is anti children getting shot at school.”
Johnson created the series in his studio — working to make his art look commercial as can be.
“The lighting is meant to parody that and the whole feel of it,” he said.
But the photos are personal — some feature his own kids.
“I have three kids, two of them are in school,” he said. “They go through active shooter drills all the time, which is terrifying. When I grew up, that didn’t happen. 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 being online across social media, Johnson said his only goal is they cause real conversations.
“If you don’t like them, do something about them,” he said. “Make these photos irrelevant.”