Picture This: A Profile of Riley Mitchell


Maximo Legaspi, Editor

Junior Riley Mitchell is one of the many students at DeMatha who pursue extracurricular activities. Chief among his out-of-school, and often in-school, activities is photography. His photos can be spotted on Instagram and have even been featured in nationwide contests. Any art takes time and dedication to create, especially in photography. So, how did Riley come to be the photographer he is today?

At the beginning of Riley’s sophomore year, he chose to take a photography class under Mr. Holsey. “In all honesty,” Riley said, “I chose that elective because I thought it would be a way to get easy credits.” According to him, he didn’t even recognize his love for the art yet. “Before I got into photography, I had a phone I took photos on just like everyone else.”

However, this all changed when he began learning with Mr. Holsey, whom he credits as a key figure in his life who inspired him. He began to enjoy taking pictures, even when the quality wasn’t the best. He remembers using his mom’s old camera from 2012, saying the photos were “absolutely horrible.” Still, he enjoyed the process, and was inspired to do more.

Once Riley realized his passion, he and Mr. Holsey began to work to make it a reality. With a Nikon D3500 and his skills, or as Mr. Holsey put it, his “gift from God,” he set out to take photography seriously. It wasn’t about grades anymore, it was about making art.

His first large milestone was one of his photos being selected for a national exhibition. The photo, a black and white silhouette of a dandelion, is still one of Riley’s favorites to this day. “It gave a unique perspective and showed the details of something so small you normally wouldn’t be able to see,” Riley said.

Even though he didn’t win any awards from the competition, he was still proud of this accomplishment. “I had only been doing photography for less than two months, and the competition was open to all high school students around the country.”

More than a year after the competition, Riley is still pursuing photography. He takes his camera wherever he goes, allowing him many opportunities to take pictures. “I take photos of just about anything that I find interesting or worth capturing a moment of,” he said. Chief among his favorite sights to capture is the environment he finds himself in, especially the sunrise. He also works at DeMatha’s sports games, capturing moments on the field. Taking Mr. Holsey’s words of “everything is art” to heart, he believes all of his pictures have a story to tell, whether we see it or not.

Even though he does not consider himself a professional photographer, he plans to pursue photography past the amateur stage. “Since my interests specifically within photography change over time, I do not see a clear niche that I would pursue yet.” He highlights travel, portraits, and sports as possible pathways down the road. Still, Riley believes that only time will tell what happens, though the future certainly is bright, and ready to be captured. 

Follow Riley on Instagram at @thatphotoguy_riley along with his photography page @tpg.media