June 23, 2010 15:22 Age: 4 yrs

Finding Their Creative Outlets

By: Liz Chilla and Wendy R. Cromwell

Photography and creative writing enrich student's law school experience

Emory Law professors often encourage students to find a hobby outside of law school to relieve stress. For James Reyes 10L and Chad Ralston 11L, these hobbies have turned into small side businesses.

James Reyes 10L: Capturing the Moment

“I love the experience of capturing moments in time, freezing them,” says Reyes.

Since the beginning of his third year, Reyes has been working as a part-time photographer.

“Photography is a great way to be able to break away and do something that is truly interesting, and that can be considered an art,” he says.

The hobby started in college with a simple point-and-shoot digital camera. Then, after taking several thousand pictures on a trip to Europe and again on his honeymoon in San Francisco, Reyes upgraded to a digital single-lens reflex camera, or DSLR.

“There’s only so much you can do with a point-and-shoot. With a DSLR, the options are so expansive,” Reyes says.

Soon family and friends started commenting on the quality of Reyes’ photos, so he created a blog and website to showcase his work.

“It started with taking pictures of my nephew,” he says. “Then people asked, ‘can you take photographs for this or for that,’ so I started shooting a few events.”

A member of the Emory Public Interest Committee, Reyes volunteered to photograph several epic events, including this year’s Inspiration Awards.

He has considered incorporating photography into his career plans, particularly in humanitarian law, where he says documenting events through photography would provide a great synergy with the law.

“It’s certainly turning into something that could be great, especially if I could figure out how to combine law and photography,” Reyes says. “It’s something that will definitely be a lifetime passion of mine.”

Reyes now is working as a photographer in Washington, D.C. Check out his portfolio at www.jamesreyesphotography.com.

Chad Ralston 11L: Putting Ideas on Paper

“It’s a creative outlet,” says Ralston of his fiction writing. “I can focus on my writing without having to concentrate on legal issues, which helps my subconscious. It enables me to come up with creative solutions for my legal classes.”

Ralston released his first novel, Portman: The Great Exchange Artist, in February through Amazon.com for its Kindle electronic reader. The novel follows a young investment intern who forms a friendship with his New York roommate and the struggles the two encounter when they fall in love with the same girl.

“I tried to publish it through traditional routes and even got a literary agent’s assistant to read the first chapter,” Ralston says. “I got positive feedback, but was told the fiction market was too thin.”

His mom suggested he distribute his novel electronically, “which is ironic,” he says, “since she doesn’t use email.” She heard about the Kindle and the e-reader market listening to NPR.

For Ralston, the Kindle’s popularity and the cost to publish it through Amazon—basically nothing—were driving factors.

“You get a percentage of each copy sold,” he says. “It hasn’t taken off yet, but I am in double digits for the number of copies sold. I’m heartened by releasing the novel this way—at least mine is out there now.”

Ralston already has started his second novel, though he assures that “my studies take precedence.

“I’m just trying to get my ideas on paper. That’s good for now.”

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