Every so often, we’ll chat with an alum about what they do and how they got there. Today we’re talking with photographer Marlayna Demond ’11, Visual Arts, about what it’s like to run her own photography business and work for UMBC at the same time.
Name: Marlayna Demond
Job Title: Photographer
Employer: self and UMBC
Scholarships Received at UMBC: Linehan Scholar
I knew I wanted to go somewhere that had a strong art program, but I also knew I didn’t want to go to an art school – I didn’t want to give up the chance to take classes in other departments. I looked at several universities in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania but felt the strongest pull to UMBC, in part because I was awarded the Linehan Scholarship. But I also felt like the size and atmosphere of this university fit me better than any others. I remember the team [of people] helping out with campus tours being really excited, so that helped my decision, too.
As far as my background, my mom is an art and photography teacher at a high school where I grew up, so photography was a part of my life since I was a kid following her around in the darkroom.
Q: What’s it like to run your own photography business?
Running your own business – especially at the beginning – is really hard. But once things get going the best part of the business is word of mouth because it means my clients are happy. The number one way I get new clients is by previous clients sharing their experience with their friends and when I get new clients through recommendations that makes me super happy! My least favorite part is marketing myself, especially in a new [to me] area. I moved from Harford County to Howard County so building up local clients is tough, but it’s finally starting to happen after about a year.
I think UMBC prepared me [to run my own business] with a great network of people and with classes that taught me to think creatively.
Q: You’re also the staff photographer here at UMBC. What’s it like to be back on campus, working at the place you went to school?
I really enjoy working here. I feel comfortable on campus because it’s familiar and I like that I run into some of my professors and friends that are still here. It’s neat to see the campus grow and change – and to stay involved in a way that I might not have otherwise.
All of my photography professors are very approachable. Calla Thompson’s digital darkroom got me interested in digital manipulation and inspired my senior project series. Being involved with the Honors College and Linehan Scholars program also exposed me to a lot of ideas and different art, which are good places to find inspiration!
Q: What advice would you give to students considering UMBC?
Come here! That’s honestly my first thought. It’s a great school – the perfect size for not getting lost in the crowd. Professors are willing to help you and get to know you, but you also have to make an effort and give them a reason to remember you. Take full advantage of your college experience – it’s a great place to make connections and learn from all kinds of people.
Q: What is your favorite part of UMBC?
My proudest memory was completing my senior project and hanging my series in the CADVC gallery as part of the senior show. I spent a lot of time putting it together so it was a great experience to show my work to friends and family. I also have great memories of playing ultimate frisbee. I joined the ultimate frisbee team my senior year and only wish I’d done so sooner because I met a lot of awesome people that I’m still friends with. Everyone says to get involved at school, and I agree – get involved as soon as possible! My other piece of advice is to have fun. There’s no other environment like a university – maybe that’s why I’m still at UMBC!
Check out more of Marlayna’s work on her website.