Lydia Williams, a junior broadcast journalism major from Lillian, is building a corporation with her business of photography and makeup, while juggling being a student.
Williams began taking photos at the age of 14 and edited them herself. Some of her peers began noticing her talent and encouraged her work.
From there, she was accepted into the Young Entrepreneur Academy at Foley High School. This program allows “students in grades 6-12 to generate business ideas, conduct market research, write business plans, pitch to a panel of investors and launch their very own companies,” according to its website, yeausa.com.
The Young Entrepreneur Academy helped create Williams’ business, Diaography.
“I went through a nine-month business course to start up my business named Diaography,” Williams said. “I had to give a sales pitch in front of a group of investors to get a startup investment. I started my photography business at the age of 17; then I became a licensed photographer at the age of 18.”
Now, with her career up and running, Williams has already developed a career in her passion. She does events, weddings, graduations and concerts and has photographed for Fetty Wap, K. Michelle, Waka Flocka, 2 Chainz, Young Dolph and other celebrities.
“From the moment I met Lydia, I knew that there was something special about her,” said Bernadette Winn, the librarian at Foley High School. “I always told her that she was going to do something to change the world.”
Williams plans to continue her work to expand her business, building most of her work off word-of-mouth clientele.
“Her professionalism is like none other,” said Karissa Matthews, a senior criminal justice major from Atmore and Williams’ business partner. “The way she goes out of the way for her clients proves that she was made for this.”
Williams’ business is composed of many branches, including makeup, videography, graphic design and T-shirt designs, on top of her photography work.
“Lydia will go very far in her career,” Matthews said. “Aside, from her talent, she is the most humble being that I know. Lydia’s ability to be humble and a go-getter proves that she will go far in her career.”
Williams explained that her friends — Matthews, Johanna Earthly and Brandon Savage — inspired her along the way.
Although this is her passion, Williams said she has faced many challenges.
“There were many days where I wanted to give up because it was difficult and frustrating, but I had a lot of the youth looking up to me,” Williams said. “The encouragement was so uplifting to my spirit—it pushed me to keep going.”
Williams does not plan to slow down anytime soon, with many ideas and goals for her future and her business.
“My main goal as a licensed photographer is to become a published travel photographer,” she said. “I also plan to launch a makeup line under Diaography.”
“I always knew that Lydia had the capabilities of being a successful entrepreneur,” Winn said. “She gained a wealth of knowledge from her mentors in the Foley area. Her personality will not allow her to accept defeat. Lydia is a go-getter.”
Williams plans to give back to people in low-income homes with her money in the future.
“I want to have a nonprofit organization that helps kids discover which path they want to go on,” she said. “It will give kids the chance to use the left side of their brain. I want the stereotypical statistic to decrease.”
Williams said she would do this by creating scholarships and grants, donations of supplies such as cameras and art supplies, and guest speakers and mentors to lead them down the right path.
“I am beyond proud of Lydia’s accomplishments thus far,” Winn said. “This is only the beginning for this young lady.”
“Lydia exemplifies all the traits that a role model should possess,” Matthews said. “Anybody seeking a career in photography should look up to her, because she truly is amazing at what (she) does.”
Williams urges those who want to go down the same path as her to take time to learn the skill and dedicate themselves.
“Go above and beyond,” Williams said. “They always say, ‘The customer is always right,’ and that is so true. If this is something you want to do, go for it and believe in yourself.”
For more information, visit www.diaography.com.