LMU's favorite photographer: Jon Rou | LIFE+ARTS | laloyolan.com – Los Angeles Loyolan


Jon Rou at work in the studio photographing a client. 

Jon Rou at work in the studio photographing a client. 
Have you ever wondered who is behind the stunning photography featured in LMU’s official website, orientation pamphlets and promotional posters?
For the past 13 years, University photographer Jon Rou has been the man behind the lens, capturing the phenomenal photographs we see all around campus.
At the University of Florida, Rou studied broadcast journalism and found a new interest in weather reporting. Rou excelled with the opportunity to improvise and became a beloved personality on the ABC affiliate WCJB in Gainesville, Florida.
While he was applying to be the main weatherperson on the station, he participated in the city’s gay pride parade and ran into some colleagues from the station who were reporting on the event.
“Well, after [the parade], the news director’s critiques of me on air were very negative. I wasn’t credible, my accent was too thick, I was too young looking. All things that were never issues before the gay pride parade,” said Rou. “So basically, I hired a speech coach, I redid my audition tape, I got glasses to make me look older and, you know, auditioned basically for the job and didn’t get it. And I really felt like it’s because of the gay thing.”
“So, I decided at that point, I wasn’t willing to risk my career with my sexuality, I needed to pick something else where I’d be safe if I was found out to be gay.”
Rou took this opportunity to move to a bigger city and relocated to Atlanta, where he continued to pursue broadcasting. While looking for a position, Rou took a temporary job at Emory University’s photography office.
With little photography experience, Rou began taking photography classes offered at the university and worked on his new craft. Just four years later, he became the studio manager of the department.
After 13 years at Emory, Rou decided to fulfill his lifelong dream of moving to California.
“I always wanted to live in Los Angeles and move to California. So at 40, I quit my job. I didn’t know anybody and didn’t have a job in Los Angeles. I just saved up money and moved here,” said Rou.
Through a connection at Emory, Rou found an available photography position at LMU and beat out over 200 applicants for the position.
“[The job] came down to me and a photographer from the L.A. Times and they had us come to campus and do a shootout, where we had like half a day on campus to photograph things, and then turn in a portfolio. I think my work at Emory helped me because I had a good idea of what people in higher education were looking for,” said Rou.
Since getting the position of assistant photographer, Rou has had the opportunity to photograph celebrities, such as Jake Gyllenhaal, Ice Cube and Jordan Peele through the LMU School of Film and Television. A few years ago, LMU sponsored a documentary series titled “The Hollywood Masters,” which featured interviews with entertainment industry’s best professionals.
Many LMU students and alumni produced the project and allowed Rou to take portraits of the celebrities after the interview.
“The actors would come up to a tiny little studio on the second floor of Communication Arts, the animation motion capture room, and I would literally have maybe two, maybe three minutes with each person with their publicist standing next to me looking at the laptop saying whether it was okay or not,” said Rou.
“But it was a really, really great learning experience for me on how to deal with pressure like that, having just a few moments and people over your shoulder, you know, telling you what to do.”
Rou is not only LMU’s official University photographer, but he also teaches an introductory photojournalism course. Beloved by many of his students, Rou has found a new passion for teaching.
“I really like teaching the students and it’s just a nice way to connect with the folks who, you know, basically employ me,” said Rou. “It makes me hopeful for the future — interacting with the students. I feel like we’re going to be okay, thanks to you guys.”
Through both his classes and his photos, Rou hopes to give prospective students a glimpse at LMU’s community and culture — one he truly believes in.
“I’ve worked at various universities in my career, and I’ve never worked at a place where the students are as happy as they are at LMU. I think there’s a sense of community and affection for the University that doesn’t exist at other universities. And that’s really a wonderful thing to be surrounded by,” said Rou.
Hi! I’m Riley Hetherington, a sophomore Communication Studies major from San Diego. I love spending time at the beach, with my family, and reading the Loyolan!
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