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Beyond a Desk Job: Turning a Creative Outlet Into a Career

By Evan Gray

Rachel Lincoln, BLC '11.

Rachel Lincoln, BLC '11, strives to preserve fading cultures through her photographic work. Photo by Rachel Lincoln.

Rachel Lincoln, BLC '11, came to Kogod expecting a 9-to-5. She left with anything but.

Lincoln, who is trilingual, anticipated that her future career as a language expert would be one filled with cubicles and rote translation work, and her passion for photography would remain a hobby. Yet by the end of her time at Kogod, Lincoln was able to grow what was once a side project into a full-fledged career.

In addition to her business courses, Lincoln diversified her skills by enrolling in photography courses that focused on artistic darkroom work and the craft of photojournalism.

"That opened up a whole new world of creativity for me," Lincoln said.

Her sophomore year, she launched her business: Lincoln Photography. But like most small business owners, Lincoln faced startup challenges.

"When I started out, things didn't necessarily run smoothly. I've definitely gained a lot of business strategy, certainly in terms of marketing methods, but also ways of working with clients to make sure that they are completely happy with the service and the product."

Kogod to Corcoran

After graduating from American University, Lincoln attended the Corcoran College of Art and Design, building upon her undergraduate education by earning a Master of Arts degree in New Media Photojournalism.

Lincoln is a big believer in continuing self-education, and continues to seek out diverse experiences.

"I'm…working on enhancing the more fine art aspect of my work," said Lincoln.

She's also working on a short documentary she began while at the Corcoran. "Alaska Natives: Between Past and Future" details the lives of native Alaskans in Brevig Mission; an isolated town located on the coast of the Bering Strait.

Despite being home to just 400 residents—most of whom are Eskimo—in a remote location, the town teeters on the edge of globalization. As younger generations begin the adoption of more mainstream culture, many of the Eskimo's traditions have started to fade away.

It's this precarious relationship between past and present that Lincoln strives to capture on film.

"I feel compelled to use my knowledge of photography and filmmaking to the document native traditions that are quickly disappearing."

Today, Lincoln's career is a combination of her experiences at Kogod and at the Corcoran, proving that business and art aren't at odds.

"You really, really have to do what you want to do and what you're passionate about," said Lincoln. "If you’re drawn to something artistic, no matter what it is you start out doing, whether it's science, or economics, or business, that background will only help you."