It's possible Lauri Lyons might have left some area of professional photography unexplored, but look at her job titles: photojournalist, travel writer, teacher, commercial portraitist, photo editor, columnist, book creator, mentor. Short of taking graduation photos, it seems she's done it all.
While at MCAD, Lyons was inspired by the famed Magnum photo agency; upon graduation, the Bronx native moved back to New York and sought out Bruce Davidson as a mentor. She also worked for a National Geographic photographer, and after some years in magazine photo editing she felt confident in stepping out on her own, providing images for international clients and publications.
Born to military parents, Lyons grew up in several foreign countries, so her wanderlust is no surprise. Yet the global experience also led her to two book projects involving the American flag—first, it's featured with American citizens, and then with citizens of other countries. As she explained in a 2009 interview, the Flag books emphasize that "cultural understanding is not only how a nation views itself, but also how the world views you."
Lyons has made history by being both the first African American woman to shoot a Fortune magazine cover, and the first to be hired by a major photo agency, Getty Images. She resists the "role model" title, however, insisting confidently that a different kind of "diversity" involves being prepared for all kinds of professional work.