As a young college student majoring in Political Science, Leroy Hamilton, Jr. was set to pursue a career in law. But a twist of fate in his freshman year of college led him into the career he would pursue for the next 30 years.
“I followed my roommate to the darkroom and the process seemed interesting,” he recalls. “At the time, I didn’t own a camera but I would rent a Pentax Spotmatic 35mm camera from the school every week. My first rolls of film were horrible but I learned a lot from the bad film.”
He kept learning from his mistakes and soon found himself in the darkroom constantly. Passionate about his new interest, Leroy would often discuss it with anyone who would listen. While most were supportive, others could not see a profitable future in photography.
“One time my father told me, ‘Boy, you can’t eat those pictures,’ implying that I could not be financially successful in the photography field,” Leroy recalls. “From that day on, I was determined to prove him wrong.”
Hamilton threw himself even deeper into perfecting his craft. Many meals later, Hamilton’s client list has grown to include NBA legend, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, HBO, Johnnie Cochran, the Writer’s Guild of America, Starz and Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management.
Hamilton has had many thrilling opportunities in his career. He describes the day that HBO hired him to be with Muhammad Ali for a day as his most exciting career experience. “It was unreal because I was given the chance to spend a day with someone that I idolized throughout my youth,” he says.
Looking back, Hamilton can’t imagine following any other career path. “This is my passion. I wake up every morning excited about my career,” he says. “Not a lot of people can say that.”
Hamilton's work has appeared in USA Today, Variety, Black Enterprise, Written By, Upscale, Jet, Ebony, O Magazine and Essence.
Hamilton resides in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.