Photography & Me: From Then To Now

By: Rachel Jolley

Photography has always been part of my path. It is safe to say that my affair with the art-form started in middle school. Whenever I would go on a trip, the number one priority on my packing list was disposable cameras (like, eight or nine of them). We’re talking late 90s, so digital was still an emerging and expensive technology; and, film wasn’t something I had been introduced to (yet).

Fate stepped in when I started high school. In order to attend a school outside of my “zoning area,” I had to take a class that was not offered at the school I was zoned for. So, graphic arts class became my fourth period go-to throughout my high school career. The class covered digital design, film photography, and screen-printing. We made t-shirts of our own designs, developed our own film, and made prints in a dark room. Talk about a creative kid’s dream world!

Photography was, of course, my favorite part of the class. We had a photo contest at the end of my junior year, and my entry ended up getting the most votes. That was the moment I really got hooked. I was enamored by the blending of creativity and competition.

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The contest-winning film photo, entitled “The Chair,” that got me hooked in high school.

When I went away to college, I fell back on disposable cameras again. Film wasn’t an option since I didn’t have a “real” camera to play with; that is, until I entered my first photojournalism course. I borrowed a Nikon at the beginning of the class, but with support from my amazing parents, I was able to get my hands on my very own DSLR. I knew photography would be something I pursued inside and outside of the classroom, and I think my parents did, too.

With the help of one of my greatest mentors (Beth Reynolds), I was able to tap into my own, personal brand of photography. I liked staying away from wide-angle shots and composition was a never-ending challenge to be tackled. Capturing the perfect shot will never be achieved, but it’s the times you come close that keep you motivated.

Ultimately, photography was the anchor that gave me weight as a journalist, and kickstarted my professional career with AOL. It showed me that I can tell a pretty good story with my Nikon. The union of writing and photography, plus some videography, helped me discover my current role and newest passion: social media marketing.

These days I utilize photography for work, but I also maintain my own brand on Facebook, with a focus on portraits and live events.

Looking back at how the stars aligned, I guess one could say it was meant to be. For me, photography is love. And love always finds a way. 

Envelope on Apple iOS 9.3 iamracheljolley@gmail.com

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