Classlight

The Atlanta School

Words by Jon Sadler

Photos by Alex Wallbaum, Jon Sadler, & Eli Craven.

Even in Idaho people think we mean Georgia when we say we spent a week in Atlanta. But there is an Atlanta in Idaho. Alex Wallbaum and I just spent five days at the Atlanta School learning and teaching, respectively, large format, paper negative photography.

Atlanta is a tiny old mining town at the end of a road. Atlanta is actually at the end of a few roads, none of them paved.

About 30 people live in Atlanta full time. The town is peppered with quaint cabins/houses. Alex and I got to live in a beautiful one known as the Henry O. Crabbe Shack. At night two candles were sufficient to light the whole place. Most of the cabins do not have running water or electricity. We got our water from a standpipe in the front yard.

I was invited by the amazing women of the Atlanta School, Amy O’brien and Rachel Reichert, to teach a large format photography workshop.

Alex Wallbaum, Tenspeed Hero photographer, took the class so he had to fly from Chicago. Then I picked him up at the Boise Airport and we drove three scenic hours along rivers, behind four wheelers, through mining claims, to this tiny town. It took Alex about 40 seconds to go from pretty sure he made the right decision to spend almost week in a tiny remote mountain town to positive he made the right decision to spend almost week in a tiny remote mountain town.

We converted a building, too small to be a barn but that was called the barn, into a darkroom. The darkroom was conveniently located across from the Crabbe shack. Alex and I had bikes but the farthest we had to go in town was maybe 300 feet.

What people do in Atlanta:

Restore old cabins.

Soak in hot springs.

Take a class from the wonderful people of the Atlanta School.

Sit around bonfires.

Eat.

Drink.

Be merry.

There’s more, like mine for gold or silver. Just don’t jump any body’s claim. Not cool.

But perhaps the favorite pastime in Atlanta is porch sitting. It’s not hard, once you get the hang of it. First, mount the porch. This can be done either from within the building or from the outside. When you accomplish this there is one more straightforward task. Find a chair, bench or stool and sit on it. The rest is a waiting game. Typically, in about five minutes, two or more people will join you. If you are on your own porch, offer the others a drink and or something to eat. Before you know it, two hours will pleasantly pass.