It’s not every day someone in a Carolina blue graduation cap and gown walks into the Student Recreation Center to take a zumba class.
But that’s what Korde Tuttle, a senior graduating this May, did last week — to take his official graduation portraits.
Tuttle arranged to get his graduation photo-shoot from 2009 UNC graduate Ryan Jones and his company, Rytography, which specializes in taking graduation portraits at unconventional places that have epitomized the subject’s duration at UNC.
Jones’ project, #locationUNC, encourages graduating students to break out of the traditional route of taking portraits at the Old Well and instead choose a location that caters to each individual’s unique journey at UNC rather than a place that generically symbolizes all UNC students.
#locationUNC began with a contest where graduating seniors can tweet pictures of their favorite location at UNC and Jones will pick the person with the most unique place, who will win a free hour-long session with him. Two runners-up will receive discounts. The contest closes March 29.
“The Old Well is obviously a great idea and very symbolic and beautiful, but 20 years from now, will you be able to remember your Carolina journey from a picture in front of it?” Jones said. “Everyone had different worlds within UNC, but the Old Well doesn’t tell that — it couldn’t tell my specific story or theirs.”
Tuttle, a regular at zumba classes and a certified zumba instructor, said many students feel the pressure of school and juggling many things at once, so zumba was his release during his years at UNC and the perfect choice for his graduation photos.
“A lot of people were looking at me as I walked in saying, ‘I want to do that,’ or ‘I would love pictures like that,’” Tuttle said.
“I think the portraits really introduce the idea of individuality and a tangible personal connection to the college experience that everyone can relate to.”
Mackenzie Thomas and Jagir Patel, co-presidents of the Campus Y and avid leaders in many other organizations on campus, were also a part of Jones’ project and took their portraits together in the Campus Y office building.
“We all will at some point take a photo at the Old Well, but it’s not what you remember when you think of our years here — you remember where you put the most time and energy, and for me, that was the Y,” Thomas said.
Not only did the graduating students involved find the photo-shoots fulfilling, but Jones said he did as well because the project existed as a kind of documentary of the different facets of the University and the unique opportunities that exist within it.
“It’s very rewarding taking these pictures and capturing a part of a person’s certain college experience that I never had — all those people you walk right by on campus each have these special stories that I get to learn about,” Jones said.
#locationUNC is very flexible, and Jones said he is willing to venture into exciting places that graduating seniors feel connected to. He said if it was him, he would get behind the grill in his cap and gown at Pita Pit where he had a job or get photographed at Wilson Library, which was his favorite place to relax.
“I would also love to go to a bar with someone in their cap and gown,” Jones said. “I know mom and dad may not like it, but it’s still true to who they are, and I’ll definitely put myself out there with them.
“I just want people be brave with me and be brave when choosing whatever place that’s right for them, no matter how crazy it may seem.”
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