ATLANTIC CITY — When Earl Pearson stepped into the Noyes Arts Garage on Friday and saw his sons’ pho-tography on display, he said he needed a bigger wall to display the photos at home.
“They’re into art in general, I love it,” Pearson, 31, said. “When they start to do certain things, I’m like, ‘You’re kidding me. (Their talent) shocks me.’”
Two of Pearson’s sons, Dominique Drake and Jamarion Jones, were part of the Coalition for a Safe Community’s photography program, a seven-week class for Atlantic City and Pleasantville youths.
They were two of 12 students who graduated the program, which gave the children a chance to express themselves, said Perry Mays, chairman of the coalition.
“The idea is to give kids something to do in the summertime,” Mays said.
The youths would go out with point-and-shoot cameras and capture nature, gardens and life. The program also gave youth a way to learn the different aspects of photography to see if this is what they might want to do professionally, he said.
This year, the program included a forensics component, where participants learned how to photograph crime scenes and evidence, he said.
At the end of the program, the students got to take home a flash drive of their photos and the camera to continue using. Pearson’s two children have been doing the program for three years and will continue the photo-taking at home.
“I like to take the pictures from different angles and choose which one I liked the best,” Dominique, 11, said Friday.
Jamarion Jones, 12, took some photos at Gardner’s Basin and others in Brown’s Park.
“I liked going around the city a lot. We got to go to places that were really fun,” Jones said.
Glynnis Reed, a local artist, taught the program that brought the children to different sites in Atlantic County. She helped the youths focus on components of photography, such as understanding how to capture different angles, and she taught the historical context of photography.
Reed spoke at the graduation, saying she was impressed by the students’ work, which gave them the “opportunity to provide a window into their own world.”
Diane Ruberton, first deputy assistant prosecutor in Atlantic County, also spoke to the youths at the graduation Friday.
She stressed that part of being proactive and investing in the future involves the kids and their hard work. Ruberton also read remarks from Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner to the graduates, which showed the importance of working hard and striving for goals.
“It all starts with a plan,” the statement from Tyner said. “I dare you to take a chance and plan your future.”
The children went to sites in the city and county, but they also took trips around the state, such as taking a tour of the New Jersey State Police Regional Operations Intelligence Center, ROIC, in Trenton.
The group learned about crime-scene photography from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Forensic Crime Scene Unit.
For Zane’ McNeil, 14, of Pleasantville, this was the first time she realized her potential in taking photographs.
She took photos in Egg Harbor City at gardens and around Atlantic County, and learned how to take them from different angles.
“I didn’t know I could actually take pictures that well,” she said. “I got to express myself.”