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Of Photography and Production: Meet Peace on the Streets Radio Show Executive Producer Sophia Jones

by Mellissa Thomas

Imagine getting the chance to photograph the now legendary femcee MC Lyte back in her heyday. Now imagine you’re a teen doing this. Now imagine seeing your photos — and your name — in a major teen magazine.

That was all in a day’s work for Sophia Jones.

The Peace on the Streets Radio Show Executive Producer has wielded her trusted camera in all circles, from glamourous celebrity events to desolate candids of the homeless hidden in the city’s quiet corners, and has bounced back from a terrible loss with awe-inspiring resilience.

 

The First (and Still Main) Love

 

Photographer and Peace on the Streets Radio Show Executive Producer Sophia Jones

Photography is practically a part of Jones’ blood at this point. She’s been at it since childhood, and even back then, her father complimented her photos.

How’d her photos end up in that major magazine in her teens? Jones explained in an interview that she’d been invited to a music video shoot and was taking photos in between shots. She fearlessly and amiably posed her photo subjects for each photo, focusing only on her job.

Unbeknownst to her, she was being noticed. “I was being observed by the photo editor of Teen Lines Magazine, who approached me and introduced herself after the shoot. She asked to see my images when I got the pictures developed.”

You read that right, by the way. That was back in the film-only, non-digital camera days, when a roll of film had to be rewound, taken out of the camera, and taken to a pharmacy for processing and printing, or if a photographer had the resources, take the roll home to her own in-home studio and develop the prints herself.

Jones set up a meeting with the Teen Lines Photo Editor as requested. “We met at a restaurant in Manhattan, NYC,” she recalled. “As she looked over my images, she told me how much she liked what she saw and asked if she could use them in the Teen Lines Magazine. I asked her would I get photo credit, and she said yes.”

The experience came as a surprise for Jones. “I was so excited I was going to be a published photographer at the age of fifteen. I couldn’t wait to see my photographs in the magazine and my name in print. Who knew, I was just having fun doing something I love.”

Since then, Jones’ professional photography experience has seen her at red carpet events, concerts corporate events, music video shoots, fashion shows, hair conventions, car shows, and even television events. She’s also done photography in the real estate, newspaper and magazine, modeling, club, and family arenas. Her repertoire is now web-wide: Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, and even Corbis Images. “I have so much fun,” Jones gushed. “I love my life.”

But she nearly lost both her love and her life.

 

The Darkest Night

On December 18, 2010, Jones lost her home and most of her equipment in a fire.

She explained that she was frying some food in the kitchen with her laptop and equipment nearby. Unfortunately, some grease escaped down the side of the pan and caught fire. “I was so scared, I just ran out of the house to find help from my neighbors. I went next door, but that person wasn’t home, I went to the next house, and no one was home there either.”

Jones was finally able to find a neighbor. “He was in the middle of eating his dinner, but he brought his hose.” However, the hose’s water exacerbated things. “The fire…exploded,” Jones recalled. “We had to run out of there.”

In the aftermath, she learned the hard way the importance of home insurance coverage. With the help of good friends Michael and Alecia Mills, she contacted her home insurance company to recoup the damages, but barely got anything. Her coverage didn’t cover the loss of her equipment. “I [even] lost my big screen TV and they gave me five dollars for it. I’m like, ‘What am I supposed to do with that?’ ”

And Jones’ difficulties didn’t end there. Around the same time, her grandmother was hospitalized and her car broke down. “It was a really rough time for me,” she said. To cut costs, she quit her job at the salon and barbershop where she worked.

 

How She Found Peace…on the Streets

Jones and Memphis, host of the Peace on the Streets Radio Show on JoyGospelRadio.com, actually go way back. He was a longtime customer at the salon and barbershop Jones’ worked in. “I’ve known him for over ten years,” she said. According to Jones, Memphis approached her to come onboard. “He knew my background in the entertainment industry and asked for my help with the show. I saw good promise and agreed to help.”

She joined the Peace on the Streets Radio Show team in late 2013, coordinating the interviews, setting up the show, and managing the show’s social media accounts.

Jones is currently living on her savings and is ready to re-enter the photography game, and found the courage to ask for help. She heard a speaker at the 2013 Tom Joyner Reunion lecturing on crowdfunding site GoFundMe and his own experience in gaining help from it. “He was…talking about how we as people are too proud to ask for help when sometimes all you have to do is ask, and people will help you.” After careful thought, she set up a GoFundMe campaign to buy back her equipment, which you can find here.

Photo courtesy of Sophia Jones.

 

 

Mellissa Thomas headshotAbout the Author:
Orlando Fashion Magazine Chief Editor Mellissa Thomas is a Jamaica-born freelance writer. She’s a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with Entertainment Business Masters and Film Bachelors degrees from Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL.

She’s currently available for hire, writing content for websites, blogs, and marketing material. She also writes poetry, screenplays, and ghostwrites books.

She has published four books, all available on Amazon.com. Her most recent release, collaborative novel “Faded Diamonds”, is now available in paperback at all major online book retailers and digitally available on the Kindle, Nook, and iTunes Bookstore.

 

 

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