Olivia Ross

Olivia Ross of the Chattanooga Times Free Press photographs the UTC-North Alabama Homecoming football game. Saturday, September 17, 2022.

UTC alum and staff photographer for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Olivia Ross' creative photojournalistic skills led to some of her photos being featured in newspapers across the United States, including the New York Times and Washington Post. 

Ross went on assignment to take photos for the Times Free Press of the flooding in Summerville, Ga on Sept. 4 and went back to take photos of the cleanup on Sept. 6.

“I had sent in my work to AP News for the floods in Summerville, Ga,” Ross said. “A couple days later, when I googled my name and an article popped up for the New York Times, I cried.”

Ross’ photos can be found in Associated Press News, Bloomberg and several other newspapers as far out as Hawaii along with New York Times and Washington Post.

According to Ross, she has always been a creative person. Coming to college, she chose graphic design for her love of art, but was not sure exactly what she wanted to do until she made the switch to communications where she found a love for photojournalism.

“Switching over to photos gave me more of a visual element that I could put more of my style and interests into,” Ross said. “In graphic design, a lot of times you have to work with what a customer wants, and with photos there is still a lot of working with what people want, but it’s in my style with whatever lens I choose to grab or light I choose to work with.”

Ross said she decided on this career path after taking Photojournalism I with Professor Billy Weeks who inspired her to pursue her newfound passion for photojournalism.

“I can’t say enough how much Billy helped me,” Ross said. “He would take us out to shoot football games with him and a lot of my first photo experiences were with him.”

According to Weeks, photography was something Ross had been interested in, but when she got to Photojournalism I, she really took off with it, and he was impressed with her eye for capturing images and using them to tell a story.

“Photographs are probably the strongest communication element,” Weeks said. “The ones that are successful, read in a second or less. You have to understand them immediately, and she got to a point where day in and day out she was producing really high quality photojournalistic images.”

Weeks said Ross worked hard to fine-tune her skills and move up the ladder to become photo editor for the Echo and eventually a staff photographer at the Times Free Press in February after graduating from UTC in December.

“Anyone can learn how to take photos and want to get better at it,” Ross said. “But I think networking with your professors is important and taking advantage of the people at UTC who were trying to help me definitely put me in a position to become successful.”

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