2012 Mentoring Program

Theme: Hometown

“Hometown” refers to the location where you grew up, the place to which you feel the most connected, or that becomes your principal residence over time.

2012 Mentoring Program Teams

Project Brief to the Students

Ideas around what a hometown can be are complex and layered. Bruce Springsteen’s song “My Hometown”–relates the story of the speaker’s memories of his father instilling pride in the family’s hometown. The song sounds like it will be a typically nostalgic look at the speaker’s childhood, but then goes on to describe the racial violence and economic depression that he witnessed living there. The song concludes with the speaker’s reluctant proclamation that he plans to move his own family out of the town.

Artist Norman Rockwell exemplifies the stereotypical ideal of the hometown. His paintings of local residents in Stockbridge, Massachusetts have become American icons. On the flip side, the photographer Diane Arbus documented the deviant and marginal people she met in New York. More recently the work of Vivian Maier– a street photographer working from the 1950s through the 1990s–was discovered at an auction in Chicago, where she resided much of her life. In her off hours from being a nanny, Meier would comb the streets of the city taking photographs. Her work includes over 100,000 negatives, prints, and countless undeveloped rolls of film that brilliantly document her adopted “hometown” of Chicago.

The Young Photographers Alliance 2012 mentoring theme will explore what “hometown” means to emerging photographers. Home is where the heart is and it’s a place that often fills us with pride. For others, it is the opposite, a place from which to escape. How we feel about our hometown, or how we define our hometown, can change as we evolve and gain experience.

For this project we encouraged the participants to explore their roots and show us what hometown evokes through their eyes and in their personal vision. Is it the daily life of a local family or an extraordinary individual helping someone in need? Is it the smell of the ocean at dawn, or the silence of a starry night? Maybe it’s a local sports team that’s beaten the odds or a neighborhood restaurant where people gather to exchange gossip and build a sense of community.

About the Mentoring Program

Hometown was the 2012 theme for the annual Young Photographers Alliance mentoring program which provides encouragement and assistance to young photographers entering the field, through a project that explores the power of photography to communicate, document and inspire. Talented college students and recent graduates are partnered with leading photographers who act as mentors to collaborate on a photo essay around a compelling social theme. The program gives emerging photographers the ability to work with successful professionals to fine tune their craft, create images for their portfolios, develop business and skills and explore markets for their work. At the same time they experience the power of photography to build community awareness and support around an important social issue.


76 college photography students
33 professional photographer mentors






United States
Austin, TX
Chicago, IL
Los Angeles, CA
Miami, FL
New Orleans, LA
New York, NY
Portland, OR
Portland, ME
San Francisco, CA
Seattle, WA

United Kingdom
London (Editorial)
London (Commercial)

See Results from the 2012 Mentoring Program

thumbnail of 2012-YPA-Hometown