Evangel Profile

Lane Simmons: Photography instructor

January 22, 2014

Lane Simmons graduated from Evangel University in 1996 with a degree  in Communication Studies. After working for nine years as a freelance photographer, he was invited back to Evangel in 2005 to coordinate the photography program and teach in the field he loves the most. Simmons, who also has a Master of Organizational Leadership (’11) from Evangel, teaches introductory and advanced courses in photography for both the Humanities and Communication departments. Outside the classroom, he continues to  improve his craft as a freelancer and doing volunteer work for the creative team at James River Church, where he has attended since 1994. He has been married to his wife, Sarah, also an Evangel grad, since 1995. They have two children: Zechariah and Gracie.

How did you become interested in photography?

I fell in love with photography in high school when I took it as an art elective. I particularly liked the work of Ansel Adams and wanted to understand his process in depth. I wasn’t able to draw or paint but photography gave me an avenue for creative expression. Photography is a unique art form in that we have to capture our art in fractions of a second in disparate conditions that we sometimes have no control over.

What has been the most enriching part of your career?

The clients I have been privileged to work with through the years and the people I’ve photographed. More recently, It’s been interacting with my students. They keep me refreshed and at the top of my game professionally.

What were you involved with as an Evangel undergrad student and what do you value most about that experience?

Mainly working for The Lance, the student newspaper. That led to me understanding and refining my photojournalism abilities. Also, it’s where I met my wife, Sarah, which is my biggest accomplishment. Well worth the money spent.

Did you ever imagine yourself returning to Evangel to teach?

Not at all. But I am so I glad I got the call from Shirley Shedd in 2005. The experience has changed my life and my approach to photography and leadership in so many ways. I have been exposed to different photographic processes for teaching that I never would’ve considered on my own. I understand more and more every semester how to communicate with and prepare students for a career involving photography.

There have been so many changes in the field of photography since you were a student. What are your thoughts about the current state of the industry?

There certainly are more people than ever before doing photography, but not all of them are doing it well. If you consistently work on refining your craft, developing and maintaining a specific style, and surrounding yourself with people who can act as mentors, you can be successful. Also, I caution photographers on the social-media bubble — it can give you a false sense of security in your talent that may not be warranted.

What is your favorite thing about working with Evangel students?

Student’s passion and commitment to excellence. They really are eager to learn and find ways to impact the world.

What advice do you have for students considering the photography programs at Evangel?

I would recommend the program for any students who are interested in using photography to show the world their unique perspective. Be ready to dig deep to understand your creativity and vision. Prepare to have refinement of your craft become your mantra and solidify a personal style. Also, you need to work through those less-than-exciting tasks such as how to develop a head for business — you’re only able to do photography for a living if you actually understand how to make a living with photography.