In a world full of male-dominated industries, it is often hard for women to climb the ladder of success. In photography, this is especially true, where women make up only 15% of the industry.
Christina Stapleton, a fourth-year criminal justice major at Florida A&M University, has been working diligently for the past year to change those statistics.
Stapleton was born on Jan, 11, 2000, in Tampa. She began her journey in photography as a middle schooler, where she would take photos at her church. Unfortunately, Stapleton had to put an abrupt pause on her growing hobby.
“My camera was stolen at the church I went to; it was one of them mega churches, so I had to stop photography for a while,” Stapleton said.
When she came to college, Stapleton joined a modeling agency and had an unpleasant experience with a male photographer who made her feel extremely uncomfortable.
“The whole time, he didn’t speak much; there was no music, no direction. I didn’t feel comfortable to start posing and being in my element. I found it weird how it took him four months to send photos back, and I was slightly exposed,” Stapleton said.
After noticing the lack of female photographers in the industry, she was motivated to continue pursuing her passion in photography and created her business, Shots by Stapleton. Since starting back up in the summer of 2021, she has held extensive graduation, birthday and studio shoots for her portfolio.
“I like studio shoots the best; we can make really cute set-ups. If we actually put the time into it, we can make something fire, so I definitely like the creativity aspect of studio shoots,” Stapleton said.
One of Stapleton’s main inspirations is being a part of the Incomparable Marching 100. She is a fall ’19 initiate of the band’s saxophone section. Stapleton said that the members of the Marching 100 are full of strong-minded and accomplished individuals.
“There are so many small businesses inside the band and people going after their dreams. Watching my freshman siblings, upperclassmen, staff, drum majors and everyone in the band has been truly inspiring,” Stapleton said.
Along with motivating her, members of the Marching 100 have given Stapleton their continued support. Stapleton’s co-initiate to the band, Anthony Kenion, has been assisting her during her photo shoots.
“She reached out to a few of her friends, and I was one of them to help out mainly because she has a huge light set up, and when it gets windy outside, it’s hard for her to take pictures at the same time,” Kenion said.
Stapleton has an extremely high success rate on and off-campus. A client of Stapleton, Tyra Jones, enjoyed her graduate photo shoot with her and would highly recommend her to other people.
“Christina is very helpful, especially with poses, and she makes you feel super comfortable, confident, and beautiful. I had fun with my shoot, and she allowed me to take my time. You should definitely book with her, and I am excited to see my final results,” Jones said.
Stapleton will be graduating in the fall but does not plan to stop professional photography.
“In five years, I won’t be in Tallahassee anymore; I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but I will gear towards more studio photography and weddings here and there,” Stapleton said.
Along with being a professional photographer and member of the Marching 100, Stapleton is also a member of Alpha Phi Omega National Service fraternity and Sigma Gamma Rho sorority. Stapleton worked with the Nike Snkrs App as well.
Part of the money that she makes from her photo shoot goes to her non-profit organization, “Feeding the Community,” where she gives food and supplies back to her local community.