Today we’d like to introduce you to Alton Pitre.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was raised by my grandmother in South Central, Los Angeles in a neighborhood known as the Jungles which is known for its notorious street gang reputation. Despite my grandmother’s unconditional love and support as a youth I still got involved in the local gang. Because of the city’s gang injunction order, run-ins with the police was common for me. I played varsity basketball in high school but was cut from the team my senior year, consequently affording my time to be consumed by the streets much more. Eventually, I got locked up two months before my high school graduation for a crime that I did not commit. I spent two years in detention fighting to not be tried as an adult. Although I was innocent of the crime, I was guilty of the lifestyle therefore I accepted my circumstance in mission to make amends with God. While inside, I joined a writing organization called InsideOUT Writers (IOW) and obtained both my GED and high school diploma.
On my last juvenile court date, I declined a plea bargain of a year and a strike and was sent to adult court where I faced a potential maximum of 46 years to life. Many of the dudes inside thought I was crazy and maybe I was, but not accepting any deal was the risk I was willing to take to regain my freedom. Fortunately, the adults court dismissed my case almost immediately and I was exonerated.
When I got out, I joined IOW’s Alumni Program and they greatly helped me to smoothly reintegrate back into society. I got a job at LA County Department of Parks and Recreation working with kids in after school and summer programs and coached a few youth basketball teams. I also was enrolled in community college studying journalism and writing for the campus newspaper.
In addition to work and school, I advocated for youth rights through IOW and a partner organization called the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) propelling my stature in the field of the social justice movement. I basically served as a juvenile justice expert on national panels sharing my story and meeting with lawmakers to lobby for juvenile and criminal justice reforms. Thanks to our efforts, we helped pass a bill in California called SB260 which granted parole eligibility to youthful offenders up to age 18. This bill sparked an array of following criminal justice reform bills which has positively impacted thousands of inmates up to this point.
After my second year in community college, I applied to Morehouse but my application was denied. I waited an entire year to apply again and was finally accepted in 2014. I currently have one semester left before I graduate with a Bachelors or Arts degree in Sociology and a minor in journalism.
My passion for juvenile justice has positioned me in places I would’ve never imagined. I’ve spoken to youth at Rikers Island, interned in DC, been interviewed by US Senator and Presidential candidate Cory Booker, participated in roundtable discussion with Vice President Joe Biden at Morehouse and have attended a meeting at the White House!
Outside of politics and education, I also developed a new passion for photography while at Morehouse in which I founded my brand Jungletography in 2015. After being in front of many lenses telling my story, I wanted to help tell other people’s story and capture their beauty.
Currently, I’m just working to build my business and to permanently carve my niche into this world. All I want to do is inspire others to be great despite any negative circumstance and to help change the narrative of how Black people are perceived and treated in America.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road but a rocky road is a smooth road to me. I’ve experienced so much turmoil in my life since I was a kid that any problem that appears in my path I feel like it can’t even hurt me. My faith is so strong that even when I may fall or stumble, my mind is always focused on how so tall I’ma be standing.
I’ve faced so many struggles especially at Morehouse. Literally almost every semester I’ve been withdrawn from my courses because I couldn’t afford their expensive ass tuition. Sometimes I never know exactly how I’ma get through but I still find a way to make things happen.
Also being that I’m from where I’m from, I constantly am a receiver of bad news back home because someone I know is always getting shot and killed. I’ve lost so many childhood friends especially due to gun and gang violence that I’m damn near numb to death. When you from LA, death is just a normal day.
I lost my mom last year. That cut deep. She suffered from cancer and a few other illnesses thanks to her druggy lifestyle. Although she never raised me, she was always around and losing my mom I swear I lost apart of me. I just remember visiting her in those convalescent homes and she would be so happy to see me telling every patient and nurse, “hey this is my son I was telling you about. He goes to Morehouse in Atlanta.”
Honestly, my main struggle, which I know many people probably won’t believe has been a financial struggle of mine. Since I’ve been at Morehouse, I’ve never worked a “real job” so money comes and goes for me. It’s not a pride thing for me at all I just feel like the time I’m spending working to make someone else rich, I can be spending to help build my business. Sometimes I make money doing odd photography and videography jobs and many times I don’t but at the end of the day, I see it all as an investment into the future. But, I’m still probably going to get a job this semester because I’ma only have one class and I need to have been paid my rent like yesterday lol.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Jungletography is a unique brand that embraces African and urban culture and recognizes its necessity to commercial society. My brand focuses on the embodiment of bridging urban culture and commercial content in various medias from photography to journalism.
I do everything from photoshoots with models and whomever, to behind the scenes videos, writing news and opinion articles and interviewing people.
My ultimate goal is to build my brand into a media company where I’ll be able to produce my own news and films. In route to this goal, I just launched my website (jungletography.com) where people can view my photography portfolio, check out my exclusive media coverage and can book services as well.
What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was just a good kid in a mad city so I had to adjust to the standards of my environment. Anyone who knows me knows I loved to play basketball and have fun, always seeking enjoyment, laughter, and adventure. However, that wasn’t always the case because I had to uphold a certain mentality because you can’t be sweet in these streets.
- My general photo shoot rate is $150 / 6 edits / 1-2 looks / 1 hour
- $150 for a Instagram 1 min promotional video
- $200 for an exclusive Jungletography interview
- Address: 830 Westview Dr. Sw #140906
- Website: www.jungletography.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: Personal: www.instagram.com/thejungle_alligator Business: www.instagram.com/jungletography
- Facebook: facebook.com/jungletography
- Twitter: twitter.com/jungletography