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  • Writer's pictureManny

#TruEMU Update: Breland Liggons

Updated: Oct 22, 2022

I think the the beginning of my photography journey is familiar to many content creators and self made entrepreneurs. I always wanted to explore, learn, and grow beyond my own understanding of film and the media. You have start from somewhere, which has lead my journey into capturing people through my photography. I remember thinking that I never really had a strong belief to own a business, but I did want another way to earn money. More importantly, becoming self-sufficient with my money earned. Money is a big factor in why people make the decisions that they do. I remember a time when I had to work between two different jobs back to back day and night. It was rough. This is after I graduated, and also was working full time as a mentor at EMU. Working two different jobs that you don't have any passion in was even more rough. Even as I earned and saved enough money, I knew that needed something more fulfilling, and seeing as I had just graduated college with a film degree, I knew I needed to make something shake.

Before starting Piedmont Blue, I was being asked to complete a variety of multimedia tasks, editing and recording videos, event photography, and also capturing graduation portraits. As an EMU Alumni, shooting graduation shoots has always helped me feel proud of capturing those who are on the path of accomplishing their goals and redefining their own journey for success.

"What happens to those past graduates and what about their stories should we learn?"

#TruEMU Updates was created to help undergraduate, graduates, and other audiences see the reality of what happens after college through real interviews with some of my past clients.

These articles are important me, especially considering what epiphany I had that came afterwards, and now it has helped answer questions that some may even not even know about the client before.

Without further ado, meet Breland Liggons.

Breland is one of my brothers from the student organization Kings of Color Inc.

Out of the blue, he asked me if I was able to capture some graduation photos for his upcoming graduation after our annual org photo op. We looked at the what we captured together and BOOM... History has been made. I hadn't even thought about charging for graduation portraits until we finished wrapping up his session. Couldn't thank Breland enough for this epiphany of my own talents.


What was your major? Are you still in your field of study?

Major: Communications and Journalism. Currently, no. If I would’ve changed my major I would had to take some other courses that could’ve made me spend another 2 years in school and I couldn’t afford it so I took work where I could.

What is your job now? Is that where you expected to work?

I’m the Store Manager for the Walgreens in Farmington, MI. Not the company I expected to work for, but I did expect to work in management at some point.

What do you like about your job? What’s making you stay?

I really enjoy helping people. Customer service always allows that, the recent pandemic has been challenging but I’ve been able to continuously help many different kinds of people, so that’s why I stay.

What lessons is your current job teaching you?

Don’t take things personally all the time, everyone goes through rough things and sometimes take it out on the wrong people. Keep doing you.

"PATIENCE!!!!! This is a huge lesson I had to learn. You can't rush anything and must control your emotions."

What’s your dream job? How do you think you will get there?

My dream job is to be a sports broadcaster for ESPN Prime Time. I’ll have to post a lot of creative content, maybe even on YouTube or publish articles to showcase my talents in writing. I’m working on it.

Ok, so be honest, has your experience at EMU helped you get to where you are at? Career wise? What about socially, emotionally, or spiritually?

Probably just socially. I interacted with so many different people of different cultures, I can adapt to any situation.

Have you made any connections with other EMU alumni?

Yes, my brothers from Kings of Color!

If not for EMU, how would your experience differ if you went to another university?

Might’ve not met so many great people in organizations who are still my friends today. Those memories will always be with me.

Would you say having a college education is a scam?

Honestly…. yes. Unless you’re going into the medical field. There are some people who are actually happy using their creativity to provide for themselves. They make their own schedules and work when they want. Most careers require a degree but don’t pay enough for a decent living in my honest opinion. Freedom for time and money is what I’m still aiming for in my life. My college degree didn’t get me that.

How do you feel about the national crisis regarding student loan debt? What do you think higher officials could do in the government?

Higher officials should forgive all student loans. It’s a financial trap. You’ll pay more in interest than the entire loan amount itself and still owe on the principal amount. At minimum they should get rid of the interest.

"It’s a financial trap. You’ll pay more in interest than the entire loan amount itself and still owe on the principal amount. At minimum they should get rid of the interest."

Has the 2020 pandemic affected you in any way?

The pandemic has affected my social life tremendously. Not being able to see my family or friends on a regular basis has impacted me emotionally and mentally. Even physically too, I couldn’t go to the gym and I actually had Covid, fought it and won thankfully.

How have you navigated throughout this pandemic and what (if any), what strategies have you used to help with your mental health?

I tried to take up hobbies I’ve always wanted to and talk to my therapist. Creativity allows me to feel free from the outside world for a brief moment.

What are some next steps in your life? Goals? Visions? Be descriptive.

Currently just settled in to a new apartment, next up is to find a permanent home! Currently, I am starting my research on rental properties within the Metro Detroit area so that I can make that my side job and have another resource of income.

What advice would you give to someone who may not want to go to college within your field/career? Would you persuade them otherwise?

No! Everything I have learned from college are lessons and I’ve tried to make the best of them. I wouldn't persuade anyone to do anything that they don’t want to do.

What final advice can you give to an undergraduate student at EMU specifically?

"It’s cliche, but the saying is true, if you follow those passions they can eventually lead to a source of income and you’ll be happy doing it 90% of the time."


Post-Grad Business Review Questions

Why did you choose Piedmont Blue to do your Graduation Photos?

My brother, (Emanuel), was starting his business and needed some models! It was perfect timing because I needed photos as well. We were able to help each other and it eventually got him more business as well.

What made Piedmont Blue stick out to you (compared to other photographers or businesses?)

Other photographers were very expensive or didn’t give as much in return when it comes to photos. Plus, I was comfortable with Manny and had no problem with him taking my photos.

If you can remember, was there anything that Emanuel Terrell (Manny)had done during your shoot that made you aware that you were in good hands of the photographer?

Took the time to critique positions to get the best shot possible and have a conversation to make me feel more at ease in front of the camera while he worked. I could tell he was focused and dedicated to capturing the best shots possible.

As far as quality, do you still like your graduation photos?



For view more photos of Breland, click on this link to my gallery below.

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