Jeffrey Williamson '09

On starting a business and self-identity in photography

February 2021


 

After graduating from Elon University with a Masters in Communications and Interactive Media, Jeffrey Williamson began crafting a diverse career path. He has worked at the North Carolina Museum of Art; for French/West/Vaughn Public Relations Agency in Raleigh and Forbes Travel Guide in Atlanta. “Some of the roles that I had were great and some of them were like, okay, I don’t really like this aspect of it, so I’ll take this and I’ll try to find another role that will give me a little bit more of what I want.”

 

Taking what he’d learned, Jeffrey pursued entrepreneurial efforts that led him to founding Jeffrey Lynn Media Photography. He recently opened up a new studio space in Durham. “I’ve always wanted my own studio to create, and I was inspired by Steve Exum. It was a short amount of time when I was seventeen or eighteen; I worked in his studio taking orders and prints. I don’t even think that he knows that I was inspired by his studio and work. And I love their family holiday portraits that they do every year.” Jeffrey’s company has focused on weddings and branding photography, now his ambitions lie in editorial photography. His work has appeared in Walter Magazine and the News and Observer. He has traveled professionally photographing in Charlotte, Richmond and Atlanta.

 

The importance of photographing people of color has been a fixture of his work, “I think what’s inspiring about it is I have to shoot from a perspective that I know. I tend to really hit a note with the community that sees themselves. A lot of my brides or grooms look for a particular esthetic and how they want themselves to be represented.”

 

Jeffrey reflected on identity during his time at the school siting, “I remember that there were only three African Americans, including myself at the school at the time. And even though we were the only people of color, I was still very comfortable. Nothing ever happened that made me feel a certain type of way, if anything it made me feel at home. It’s kinda odd, but I’ve talked with a lot of people who come from a high population of African American school's and I explained to them that being a minority at the school— I actually felt closer to my identity. Everyone brought different perspectives, so I was able to be introduced to so many different people and so many cultures.” 

 

Jeffrey remembered international exchange students that attended the school who opened his eyes to a multitude of cultures. As well as the teachers that had an impact on his identity. “Even with our teachers, with Rodney and Mr. Qualls who were openly gay. That spoke volumes to me and helped me embrace myself. I still keep in contact with {former college counselor} Ms. Orbert who has become my unofficial godmother. I was able to do a photoshoot with her and we were able to catch up. So, I think even though I was in a space where a lot of people didn’t look like me it helped me embrace a lot of the things that I want to do today. Going back into the facet of me taking photos of people who look like me, I think all of that is inclusive of what I learned back then while getting comfortable in those spaces. I photograph all types of colors, not just Black straight couples— Black gay couples and different races, I’m open to all of that. I have to be susceptible to photographing those types of people if that’s what I identify as. That’s how I feel so connected to my work.” 

 

Jeffrey isn’t just photographing weddings, he’s planning his own. Jeffrey was recently engaged to his partner of 5 years, “He was delivering mail to my apartment complex and most mail carriers have their specific routes. He had just started at the post office, so it was not his official day to day route, he was filling in for someone and we just hit it off. We are going on six years now.” 

 

Jeffrey Williamson graduated from Elon University with a Bachelor's Degree in fine arts, and a Masters in Communications and interactive Media. For bookings visit www.jeffreylynnmediaphotography.com