Stockton’s golden idea: New photo club shows love for city


A sense of pride is flowing through Stockton and continues to grow each day.

It’s easy for those who have been in Stockton for a while to have pride in their city, but what about the younger generation?

Stockton is constantly in the news with derogatory headlines that paint a picture that Stockton is not the place where you want to be.

The Golden Hour Project, created by Matthew Amen, Erik Johansson, Joel Munoz and Johhny Chin, hopes to finally stomp out Stockton’s stigma while still helping the city.

The Golden Hour Project is a group of local photographers that have been going out on select Sunday evenings to take pictures around Stockton.

Their ultimate goal is to release a coffee table book that will feature all the photographers involved and a few of their photos.

The profit from their books will go directly to helping a Stockton-area school’s art department.

“We want people to re-fall in love with Stockton,” said Amen.

Amen, Johansson, Munoz and Chin hope to continue creating different books that correspond with the seasons and each season they will help a different school as well.

“Your passion could bless someone else,” said Munoz.

In early June, Amen and Johansson came up with the idea for the Golden Hour Project and decided to involve Munoz as he had happened to see them later that day.

Amen recalls involving Chin as well, because of his connection with the community as well as his photography.

They all sat down and found their favorite local photographers and reached out to them through Instagram.

Within a few weeks, they had a mission statement and had set up an Instagram and set a location for their first session.

At their first session, all ten photographers they contacted showed up.

By their third session, they had more than 50 photographers attend.

Photographers of all different age groups and backgrounds are coming together to show that Stockton is beautiful.

“The line of age is blurred by the passion they have,” said Amen.

Jonathan Romero only does photography as a hobby, and when he’s not shooting photos he’s working at Lowe’s.

“For me, it’s liberating. Because I get to go out and explore Stockton and not be afraid of it,” said Romero.

Although Romero has only been in Stockton for a few years, he already has pride in the city and is proud to be apart of the project..

“It makes us feel like we have a family,”said Romero

Josh Renwick is a history teacher through Lincoln Unified School District and does photography as a hobby as well.

Unlike Romero, Renwick has lived here his whole life.

“I’ve been waiting for something like this in Stockton for a long time,” said Renwick. “There’s not too much going on with Stockton and art, and what I’m seeing is almost a renaissance in Stockton.”

Amen emphasized that it’s not about them, it’s about the city and what they are doing to help it.

The group has been putting in work to help get the project out to other Stocktonians.

So far the group has raised $170 from setting up pop-up spots at local events such as the Stockmarket, and Symposium, a live music and art show, and selling their prints.

Amen announced at their final meeting for summer session that Empresso Coffeehouse offered to let the group display their photos during Stockton’s Beer Week.

The Golden Hour Project is the first of it’s kind and Amen, especially, hopes that it will expand to a world-wide project in the future, but for now they will stick to Stockton.