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Meet LaToya Tyson of LT Visual Studios in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to LaToya Tyson.

LaToya, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Storytelling has always been the part of artistry that has interested me. I started out writing short stories and poetry and then that evolved into writing songs and music, which became a huge part of my life for years. The grunge, rock and metal I listened to helped me develop my own unique style and influenced my art. I received my first camera at 10, and it was another medium to world-build for me. I focused on music when I decided on college, but also started taking photography classes.

Photography gave me the ability to visualize my ideas and concepts completely in my own style, like a painter with a blank canvas. I completely fell in love with it and immersed myself into the photography world. I went to Long Beach City College where I took a studio lighting class under the instruction of Professor Ann Mitchell and that is the class that changed everything for me. The space was yours to design and create and conceptualize through an image. This large-scale production style of image making allowed me to realize expressing my artistic vision though this method was the space I wanted to explore.

A mentor of mine Cheryl Younger suggested I look into attending Texas Women’s University in North Texas based on their well-regarded art program. After receiving a scholarship to further my studies, I packed up my life in Southern California leaving all of my friends, family, and the comfort of home to learn and thrive in a new environment. This journey helped me continue to expand my skills while really crafting my personal aesthetic. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (Photography Concentration) and a minor in business, an achievement I’m especially proud of, being the first in my immediate family to finish high school or receive a degree. Eventually, I returned to Southern California where my creative evolution and love for storytelling has now come to include filmmaking and videography to tell a more dynamic story.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Starting off, I was aware this would be a challenging field. One of the main obstacles for me in this industry has been getting past the gatekeepers and access to resources. The photo/film industry is lacking in people of color, especially on the directorial and cinematography side. Sometimes going on meetings for projects with clients, or bidding for jobs, it can be a struggle to be seen in the same light as my fellow artists. This was even prevalent in college where I was competing for scholarships and photography contests against second-generation photography students who had access to equipment and resources I could only dream of. Knowing this, I put in extra time in the school’s labs or on my own learning new materials and new techniques. I taught myself web design and graphic design. This lack of resources turned into an opportunity to teach myself the techniques I needed.

When I started getting into film, I didn’t have actors or anything to make films so I taught myself video editing, green screen and started filming my own YouTube Videos. That is how Torin Talks, my YouTube channel was started. My family didn’t understand my decision to pursue Art and were extremely critical of it, saying I was destined to fail. I turned to filmmakers for inspiration like Amma Asante and Ava DuVernay who is from the same hometown as me! I let their success be a reminder that my goals were attainable. But I never let that fact that I wasn’t well to do or never had the right connections, or even lack of family support stop me from pursuing my goal. I looked at every obstacle as just another challenge towards pursuing a career in the Arts.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
LT Visual Studios is a Multimedia service that specializes in photography, video, editing, branding and design. My photography and video work are the most well known, with my video becoming the most popular as of late.

Developing unique stories and incorporating cinematography elements into my images is what my photography work is centered around. I blend various influences from literature to history and often pop culture into my work. I believe that is what sets my work apart, my way of combining elements of the familiar to present something new. I have had the fortunate opportunity to have my work shown in various galleries in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Denton, Texas.

My commercial video work has been the most busy aspect of my business, offering clients digital media packages including design, video/photography and brand marketing. This has been very successful as more companies are needing full multimedia packages but with enough individuality and creatively to be distinct.

Filmmaking is the newest aspect of LT Visual Studios and this is the most challenging and rewarding artistically for me. With a client you have set boundaries and in this the field is limitless so currently, I’m focusing a lot of energy and time developing this aspect of my brand. I’m in the process of writing several scripts.

I’m especially proud of all the work I’ve done for Torin Talks on YouTube, where I dive into all things nerdy/ comic related. It is 100 percent produced, filmed, edited, designed, and written by me. I have self-produced over 100 videos. This led me to guest spots editing and creating content for other YouTube channels and creators.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was always seen as unconventional for various reasons, being labeled “that weird black girl” because I was into comics, Star Wars, Heavy Metal and Punk along with the style of clothes I wore. I took that misfit label as a positive and it gave me the tools to craft my individuality and a little bit of a rebellious nature against what is expected of me by society. My heroes were people like Brody Dalle and Lita from WWF and I thought I was going to end up being a rock star or a wrestler, and I always wanted to have a career that had a sense of adventure to it. Once I started on my photography journey, I realized this outsider mentality helped me in various ways to see things from different perspectives as well as learning the conventional path is not necessarily the best one.

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