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April 27, 2021

Life Through a Lens

Annalee Durland-Jones ’22, a Peace and Conflict Studies major and Art minor (photography), has an incredible zest for life. Whether she’s in Greece or Greensboro, she strives to leave everyone she meets feeling more joyful than before they met her. Guilford College helps her live out this ideal as well as other values Annalee holds dear.

“Guilford was actually my No. 1 choice as of my junior year of high school. I was looking at small liberal arts schools that actually try to engage with the community rather than simply being there and existing.” 

Annalee Durland-Jones '22
Peace and Conflict Studies major, Art minor (photography)

“Guilford was actually my No. 1 choice as of my junior year of high school,” she shares. “I was looking at small liberal arts schools that actually try to engage with the community rather than simply being there and existing.” 

Annalee credits Peace and Conflict Studies Professor Zulfiya Tursunova with helping her find her path at Guilford. 

“I've been incredibly lucky to work with Zulfiya for the past three or so years,” she says. “I know that ultimately she wants me to succeed, so she has sent me a whole bunch of incredible resources and opportunities.” 

For example, Annalee said her attendance at a recent three-day symposium was one of the many ways professors have found opportunities for students to engage during the pandemic.

Making Connections

A junior Honors student, Annalee recently finished a photo series concerning the impact of suicide on youth and young-adult communities. She hopes to build on this topic for her Honors senior thesis, connecting it to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on marginalized communities. 

“I looked at the history of pandemics and how they have influenced and shaped the way different cultures are impacted. I also looked at cultural differences such as how the color of your skin can decide how long you live, or how your ZIP code can decide what access to medical care you’re going to have,” she says. “Right now, I'm looking specifically in the Greensboro community at how COVID-19 is impacting Latino communities.”

Annalee is careful in her approach to photographing her subjects. “I'm trying to come out of it with a story and a connection. I want to make someone feel like they’ve been listened to and heard rather than, ‘I'm just there to take a photo and that’s it,’” she says. “At the end of the day, if I don't even take a photo of a person but I make them feel like there's one more person in the world that cares then that’s what I want them to come away with.”

Caption: A paraglider drifts through the sky in this photo taken by Annalee Durland-Jones '22 when she worked for a paragliding company in Switzerland.

Sharing in Joy

Annalee’s joie de vivre extends beyond her passion for social justice to weddings and the outdoors. Photographing weddings allows her to share in intimate moments in people’s lives, something she “absolutely loves.”

At Guilford she’s the president of the Outdoors Club. “Hiking and backpacking are big parts of my life,” she says. During her sophomore year, Annalee took a gap semester to go backpacking in Europe. In Greece, she photographed older gentlemen working in an olive grove who had never seen themselves in a photograph.

“Helping people see themselves for who they are is something I absolutely love to do,” she says. “I love knowing I've touched someone's heart and that I've made them see themselves as the beautiful people they are.”

For her plans after Guilford, Annaleee is still exploring her options. She does want to continue her photography business and shift her wedding work to full time.

Her advice for incoming Guilford students? “Take a variety of topics of courses, whether it's botany, arts, or math. All my classes have real-world applications and have been relevant to what I want to do in the world.”

Are you ready to explore your passion for art in ways that change the world like Annalee is doing? Register for your personalized visit to campus to meet faculty, staff, and students who share the same interests as you.