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Southern Heritage Classic 2018

Five-year-old photographer Storee Elle Walton makes pictures that tell a story

She was all set to work the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis

Five-year-old Storee Elle Walton packed up her camera in September to capture a few photos at one of the big annual sporting events in Memphis: the 29th Southern Heritage Classic football game and Battle of the Bands featuring Tennessee State University and Jackson State University.

But she never got to work. For the first time, the game was canceled because of bad weather, including lightning.

“I was sad,” she said. “I really wanted to take pictures of the game and the cheerleaders.”

“The game was initially delayed several hours in hopes that the weather would improve and the teams could play,” Fred Jones Jr., the Classic’s founder, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, that did not happen. This is not only a huge disappointment to the fans but to myself and the Classic staff, both universities, and the many Classic ambassadors [volunteers] who work hard to organize it each year.”

This year’s game will not be rescheduled, but the two schools will face each other again in the Southern Heritage Classic on Sept. 14, 2019.

Storee — alongside her grandfather, professional photographer Thurman Hobson Jr., whom she affectionately calls “grandman” — made the best of the day. Before the rain encapsulated the city, she joined more than 100,000 tailgaters, capturing photos of the experience, and met Tennessee State University president Glenda Glover.

Kindergartener-photographer Storee Walton (right) with Glenda Glover (left), president of Tennessee State University, at the 2018 Southern Heritage Classic.

Courtesy of Storee Walton.

Hobson first placed a camera in Storee’s hands when she was only 1. She would take pictures at church using Hobson’s equipment, and at 4 she earned her first payment for a picture of a father and son.

“She made $25,” he said. “I printed the photo out and put it in a photo slip and gave it to the family, who were simply amazed. They thought I took the photo. It was framed perfectly.”

Hobson, who raised three daughters with his wife, Deborah, welcomed Storee into the world with the excitement of any first-time grandfather. Storee stole his heart with her bodacious personality, her smile and her interest in the very gift that made Hobson a well-known photographer.

“She’s the boss,” Hobson said. “She said she wanted a camera, so I went out and purchased her a camera.”

Storee is working with her mother, Tanyel Walton, to launch a website, Love Storee Photos. She spoke with The Undefeated about her interest in photography.

What kind of camera do you use?

Nikon, my mom’s iPhone and I like the emoji things.

Are you sad that you didn’t get to shoot the game?

Yes, I really wanted to shoot the game.

Young photographer Storee Walton was all set to take photographs at the Southern Heritage Classic 2018 in Memphis, TN but inclement weather resulted in a canceled game.

Courtesy of Storee Walton

How much do you charge for your photos?

Thirty-thousand and fifty hundred thousand dollars. But it depends on the photo shoot.

Do you have fun taking photos of everyone?

Of course.

What do you like about taking photos?

Well, I like to pose and find the camera, and I like to take pictures of other people. I’d like to be rich. I like pictures for TV or YouTube or of somebody famous.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A doctor, a fashion model and a camera lady.

How much do you love your “grandman”?

A whole lot!

How do you sign your contracts for photos?

With both crayons and pencils.

What is a fun fact about you?

My name is Storee and my pictures tell a Storee.

Kelley Evans is a digital producer at Andscape. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic Southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.