MKE Influencers: Jarvis Lawson, using social media to inspire, 1 picture at a time

MKE Influencers: Jarvis Lawson, using social media to inspire, 1 picture at a time

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- How many photos do you think you've ever taken?

For Milwaukee-based photographer Jarvis Lawson, that answer is easily in the millions.

“I mean every day, it doesn’t feel like work," Lawson told CBS 58's Ellie Nakamoto-White.

The two met up by the Lakeshore State Park near Discovery World, one of Lawson's favorite areas to shoot.

“I think for a lot of people, the lake resonates with us here, and I’ve always been driven toward the coastline of the lake which is beautiful because there’s just so many ecosystems in terms of obviously the animals and then us," Lawson explained. "We reside around the lake so it’s just been a fun gathering place.”

And as a born-and-raised Wisconsinite, he knows how to capture the beauty of the Badger State.

But as he pulls out an entire backpack filled with camera gear, Lawson said his journey started a bit more simply -- with just one device that could fit in his pocket.

“I started in college, I was getting burnt out from playing college basketball, and around 2012, 2013-ish is when I stumbled across photography through Instagram," Lawson said. “I saw the hashtag #iPhoneOnly and I was locked in from then.”

He used his phone for about a year, exploring what kinds of imagery he liked to capture.

“It was all cityscape, street work, love the grittiness of big cities, like Milwaukee, Chicago, New York that really caught my eye," Lawson said.

And it's thanks to a birthday present from his mother when he turned 23, that Lawson graduated to the big leagues.

"It was a Canon Rebel T3," Lawson recalled fondly. “It was kind of like an epiphany, like I had this real camera, these lenses, and I was like, 'oh, what do I even do with this thing?'”

That was about a decade ago, and since then, Lawson has posted his sights back onto the same platform that sparked his passion, garnering nearly 120,000 Instagram followers.

“There’s been several times where I’m out shooting and I’ll look up out at a certain window, and I can feel like a presence behind me, and that person will look up and kinda like scratch their head like what the hell is he looking at?" Lawson said. "But it’s a beautiful thing because I can be out in the open like hey, this is what I’m looking at, come over here, look at this, and try to open up their perspective too.”

His work has also allowed him opportunities to travel internationally, shooting in several countries across Europe, as well as securing deals to work with major clients like Air Jordan, Stella Artois, Alaska Airlines, and Under Armour, to name a few.

But some of his favorite things to shoot revolve around architecture and portraiture, with an overall goal of "wanting the viewer to feel like they're standing right there."

Each photo memorializes a moment not only in time, but also in his career -- a good reminder that inspiration is everywhere.

“I think it’s a beautiful tool to look back and see where you’ve been and where you’re going," Lawson said. “Whether I’m driving, whether I’m out for coffee, I see something. A person walking past or a fleeting moment, so to speak, you know so everyday is photography for me.”

To check out Lawson's work on his website, click here. For his Instagram, click here.

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