From SMAD Major to White House Photographer

Lawrence Jackson's Experience

Courtesy of Professors George Johnson, Joe Hinshaw, and Ryan Parkhurst.

White House photographer Lawrence Jackson (’90) never realized when he left James Madison University that his passion for photojournalism could lead him to one of the most coveted photography assignments in the world. For Jackson, his love of photography is its own reward.

“In photography, if you can grab someone’s emotion, if you can capture their attention, if you can tell a story, if you can do all three of those things, it can have resonance… that love of photojournalism has carried on through my career, my life.”

Jackson started in his position at the White House shortly after President Obama took office. “Working for the first African American president is an opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” Jackson said. “To be a part of this administration, the things that they’re doing…are pretty important.”

Jackson says his expertise in the field came through years of hard work. He still credits JMU with laying that foundation.
“When I was at JMU, I had great mentors and I didn’t realize they were going to be my mentors. I found this love of photojournalism that I didn’t know I had before I got there.”

President Obama’s term in office comes to an end at noon on January 20th. Jackson will leave the White House with him. “ It has been, just a phenomenal ride…and I’m very sad to see it come to an end at some point. I think I’ll always look back on this as one of the best jobs I ever had.”

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Published: Thursday, January 12, 2017

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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