Editor's note: This story was written as a part of the Observer's Explorer Post program, which gives high school students the chance to learn about journalism.
You might have seen her at Common Market in Plaza Midwood. You might have seen her in NoDa, camera in hand, taking some unique wedding photos. You might be asking yourself, “Why would anyone be taking wedding photos in NoDa?” If you met Meredith Jones, a local Charlotte photographer, she’d tell you it’s because of “the diversity and variety you can find there, where no two corners look alike.”
The variety of NoDa reflects the variety in her line of work. From local events to personal art projects to teaching at The Light Factory, she has taken something from her experiences and reflected it in her art. Being on her high school newspaper staff is what first sparked her interest in photography, and although she was never the best student academically, photography just felt natural to her. From the first time she touched her “first real camera,” she held it in her hands and had a “this is it” moment.
She pursued this interest by taking classes at Central Piedmont Community College, photography and psychology being her favorite. During college, she met one of her long time best friends, Leslie, who was also into photography. Leslie said that “she would take pictures of literally anything.” The two continued their friendship, and while Leslie moved away from photography and ended up majoring in art education, she always knew that Jones was very dedicated to photography.
Since then, Jones has done family shoots, location shoots, and some editorial work with Creative Loafing, where on one assignment she covered homelessness, which really opened her eyes and inspired her to create more art on the subject.
She’s now working on a project called Women Helping Women about how throughout time, women have always supported other women. It shows the importance of female role models in young girl’s lives, as well as less obvious things like how moms carpool. Throughout history and humanity, you will always find sisterhoods of women pitching in to help each other out. The project involves women of all races, ages, and backgrounds, but the thing they share is their female perspective, which Jones said too often goes unnoticed. “Photography has really helped me get involved in the community and reach out to others in ways I haven’t before,” Jones said. Community is a common theme in Jones’ photography. For her, as with most photographers, the job is an individual thing, where you have fewer colleagues and more clients. The lack of peers doesn’t mean photographers are lonely; they meet fellow photographers on the job. This was the case with Kenneth Owens, a street photographer she had met at Common Market and when she saw that he had a camera, it sparked a conversation. Kenneth has since worked with her, and says every time he sees her “she is always enthusiastic and seems genuinely happy to be there.” She also finds a sense of community at Creative Loafing, The McCall center, and North Carolina Street Photographers. Jones’ passion drives her to create art and improve. Women’s perspective and homelessness are two causes that Jones is passionate about, and “any opportunity to spread social awareness through my art is a good one. Not only can you become passionate in the process of your own work, but different artists of different mediums can also motivate you to apply your talent in your field,” Jones said.
She heard Aurora Robson speak about her sculptures and Jones said to hear her talk about it with such passion was “mesmerizing , directly from her heart, directly from her soul, and you get recharged in your own work through her mission.” Robson creates sculptures from junk discarded into the creek, and puts it together to make something new and beautiful.
Which is what Jones does: She takes photos around Charlotte, and puts her own twist on it to bring a new perspective. When asked what her general goals were, she said, “To get people involved, ask others to participate, take action in the community in a way that hasn’t been done before” – through photography.