Lynne Damianos AAS ’79, BS ’81

When Lynne Damianos AAS ’79, BS ’81 was at RIT, there was no architectural photography major. However, from early on in her studies, she knew that’s what she wanted to do. “I was able to take other courses that related, and was able to write my own independent study,” explained Lynne.  “There wasn’t an independent study available for photography at the time. So I came up with the idea, presented it, and the dean agreed to let me do it.” Lynne was able to take a quarter off and work on a big photography project for her independent study. “It was really great,” she said of the experience, “I liked that RIT had the flexibility and willingness to allow me to do something that wasn’t the typical program.”

Lynne has made her passions into a career; she’s now the principal photographer and project manager of Damianos Photography. “A lot of people are shocked to find out that I have a degree in photography from RIT. Most people in the general public think you can go out, get a camera, and you’re a photographer.” Lynne reflects that many photography schools in her time, that were short course certifications, have since gone by the wayside, and no longer exist. “I really think that you can get such a great and diverse education at RIT,” said Lynne. “And if you’re into photography, there’s so many different programs within the photography major. You can really mold it to what you’re looking for.”

As the creative force behind Damianos Photography, her work encompasses the built environment, architecture, products, artwork, and people - primarily for business applications. She majored in professional photography, and attributes her career success to her education at RIT. “Because of that,” Lynne said, “rather than just giving some token amount on an annual basis, to me it made sense to give back something more substantial.” Lynne appreciates donors who give annually and wishes more RIT alums would do so, but she wanted to do something larger and more meaningful. She decided to include a provision for RIT in her living trust. “I wanted to make more of a statement and express my appreciation for something that has been the basis of my life. I think that when you give something that is a little more substantial, other people see that and it gives them the idea that they could do that, too.”

At the start of her career, Lynne didn’t have a lot of excess cash to support charitable organizations she believed in, such as RIT. ”As I matured with my business, and had access to funds, it seemed to make sense to keep it really simple and just put something in my trust. It would be a no-brainer, everyone would know what my wishes were.”

Lynne is well connected with other professional and amateur photographers and enjoys sharing the foundational knowledge she learned at RIT. “I’ve always been someone who has gotten involved in professional networking, and one of the things I feel has set me aside from photographers I’ve met is the breadth of my knowledge of the photographic sciences and technology, and knowing how to fix anything that goes awry,” said Lynne. “Having the formal education made a huge difference technically as well as artistically.”

Another perk of being part of the RIT community is the extensive network of alumni and faculty she can call on if she needs advice or help. She has cultivated this primarily by staying involved at RIT over the years and attending alumni events. “As an example, in my degree program at RIT, there were three or four other photographers that I saw every day during the course of the year,” Lynne explains. “And now they live within several miles of where my studio is. Even though we are competitors, we also have supported each other. We’ve helped each other with assignments when the other person couldn’t do it. We’ve even shot jobs together.” Lynne appreciates helping out her fellow Tigers because “you never know when you’re going to be the one to need help; we’re all in this together.”

Lynne also enjoys mentoring other photographers. “There are a lot of photographers out there not charging what they’re worth,” she said. “They’re just happy to get the job, and then they realize that they can’t support themselves.” Lynne feels that because she has a great basis of knowledge, support, and connections, she wants to use what she knows to enable others to become successful entrepreneurs. “There are a lot of good photographers out there, but you also have to be good at the business part of it. A large portion of that has to do with networking and finding mentors to learn those skills from.”

To RIT’s College of Art and Design alumni, Lynne has a special message. “I really recommend going outside your comfort zone by staying connected and attending RIT alumni events, or fairs where RIT is represented, and sharing your experience with others.  You just never know where it may lead.”