• Black-owned business spotlight: Media Arts Collective

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    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Jon Strayhorn is a relationship person.

    The Media Arts Collective owner says a collection of friends across the Southeast and a “paying it forward” attitude is what keeps his professional photography business going.

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    Strayhorn opened Media Arts Collective nearly a decade ago, in the wake of the recession in 2008.  

    He said a handful of layoffs and “an understanding wife” pushed him to commit to the photography business full time.

    “I lucked out and got with the right people from the start,” Strayhorn said. “I have a long list of people that I can name who helped me get to where I am now.”

    Media Arts Collective employs a team of photographers and videographers who act as a “one-stop shop” for photography needs across Charlotte.


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    The team provides event photography, portraits, wedding photography, web design and other services.

    The photographer is often hired to capture events such as the annual CIAA Basketball Tournament in Charlotte and charity events for rapper T.I.’s nonprofit group, The Harris Community Foundation.

    Strayhorn thinks being a black business owner in Charlotte is a “source of pride.”

    “I’m proud to know that I’m able to represent my race as a successful business owner,” he said. “Many of my ancestors fought for the right for me to thrive as a business owner and I feel that, in some ways, I’m doing the same thing for the next generation.”

    Strayhorn says he’s been focusing on a younger generation of photographers as he works to teach them not only about photography, but also about how to run your own business.

    “I pay it forward. I wouldn’t be here if someone hadn’t seen something in me to want to help grow my business. So now, I’m doing the same,” Strayhorn said.

    Strayhorn is teaching his teenage sons, Jonathan and Jordan, more about the photography business in hopes that they will one day take control of Media Arts Collective.

    To learn more about the services Media Arts Collective offers, click here.

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