We had the good fortune of connecting with Lydia Thomas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lydia, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
Robert Frost once said: “In three words, I can sum up everything I have learned about life; it goes on.” This is such a simple sentiment but I always find myself coming back to it because it reminds me to be humble and to keep going when things get hard. Life doesn’t slow down for anyone, you can either roll with the punches or let them keep you down. Either way, it goes on.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have been working in some capacity or another since I was about thirteen years old. I have a tendency to overwork myself and still feel like it’s not enough. Recently, I have been woking on finding a balance, but for me that’s like finding a needle in a haystack. I am currently an intern at Westlight Studios, a model for Tribe Talent Management, running my own photography business, working nearly full time at a coffee shop, and trying to plan a move to another country soon. I also have an internship with Strike Magazine Vanderbilt. Overwhelming is an understatement. Yet at the same time, all of the stuff I am doing right now would be more than younger me could ever dream of. That keeps me going. Overall, I am happy, and I think that is enough. One of the things that adds to this problem is my stubbornness in thinking I can do it all. I want to be a model, fashion & lifestyle photographer, photojournalist, actress, writer, and more. If I was forced to pick one thing though, it would likely be photojournalism. Especially recently, I have been so impressed with how important it is. Photojournalists put their lives on the line to show the world the humanity behind our darkest stories. A good photojournalist removes themselves from the equation and displays only the importance of empathy in times of extreme distress. There is no work I would rather be remembered for.
I feel like photography is the perfect answer to my constant desire to be involved in anything and everything. To be a photographer is to be the eyes of the world. You can take a camera just about anywhere and incorporate it into just about everything. But most importantly, it is one of the most effective tools for combatting the evils of society. One of my favorite photographers, Gordon Parks, describes it this way: “Poverty and bigotry would still be around, but at last I could fight them on even terms. The significant thing was a choice of weapons with which to fight them most effectively.”
My camera is my weapon of choice, for combatting anything from burnout to oppression.
I don’t know for sure what the future holds, but regardless I feel extremely lucky to be where I am in this moment.
If there’s one thing I have learned so far, it is that there’s no such thing as “having it all figured out.” Once you get used to this idea, everything becomes a lot easier.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I actually have a little tour guide blog for Nashville on my website. It’s called “A Photographer’s Guide To.” Most of the time when people think of Nashville they think of partying and country music. There is plenty of that around here, but there is so so much more. Especially from a photography perspective, Nashville is full of hidden gems. My perfect day in the city would consist of an early morning sunrise photoshoot at Cornelia Fort Airpark, followed by breakfast at Liberty Common. I always love a visit to Nashville’s art museum The Frist. I leave feeling inspired and ready to keep creating. Lunch would have to be at Hawker’s or Greko Greek Street Food. My friends and I love to go skating downtown at sunset and take golden hour pictures. If you’re really into skating I would definitely check out Salemtown Board Co. as well. Lastly, it’s imperative that you catch a show at a small concert venue like Exit In or Mercy Lounge.
There is so much more to do around Nashville, but that sounds like a pretty full day to me.
If you want more suggestions (especially photography-related) visit: https://www.lydianoelle.com/photographers-guide-blog
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Of course, I have to mention my friend Jo’elle Armstrong who recommended me for this interview. She has been a consistent source of encouragement in my life for the past few years. I am so proud of her and all the work she is doing. I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am without the support of so many people who gave me the confidence to keep trying. My brother Jackson made me realize that it is possible to make a living out of something you love doing. My sisters see all of the struggle, sleepless nights, and tears that go on behind the scenes. Without their support, I wouldn’t be here at all.
My friends hype me up endlessly and always find new opportunities for me by telling other people they meet about me. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for that.
Currently, I have an internship at Westlight Studios run by Michael Gomez. He is an incredible photographer and I will always be thankful that he took a chance on me. I have already learned so much from him and the amazing people he has introduced to me.
If my future looks bright it is because of the many people who have lit the way. Anyone who takes the time to read my words, appreciate my photos, send more work my way, or encourage me, is invaluable to me. I promise I do not take it for granted.
Feature Photo – Keaton Boyd