Georgia A self-portrait of Tech College of Computing photographer Terence Rushin in his studio

OutKast, Miley Cyrus Among Music Icons Photographed by College Staffer

This year's Black History Month theme is "African Americans and the Arts." For Terence Rushin, a hobby that started with a Nintendo Game Boy Camera has led to a successful career as a visual artist.

When he's not taking photos that make students, faculty, and staff look like rock stars, College of Computing digital communications specialist Terence Rushin takes pictures of actual rock stars.

Rushin has a successful side hustle as a freelance entertainment photographer specializing in live concerts and music festivals. Janelle Monáe, Kendrick Lamar, Miley Cyrus, Korn, TWICE, and OutKast are among the global headliners he has photographed.

Janelle Monáe photographed by Terence Rushin
Terence Rushin photographed Janelle Monáe's The Age of Pleasure Tour in 2023. Photo by Terence Rushin.

An Atlanta native, Rushin has photographed more than 600 live concerts. He is well-known among venues and photo editors for capturing stunning images that convey a live performance's raw energy, emotion, and vitality. This reputation has led to Rushin being the go-to photographer for State Farm Arena, Live Nation in Atlanta, and other venues.

Working with the college community

With a portfolio filled with vibrant, eye-catching concert photography, Rushin stood out when he interviewed with the College of Computing. LaDonna Cherry, creative services assistant director and Rushin's supervisor says the college communications team needed someone to help take its visual storytelling to the next level.

"We were actually saying we wanted a photographer that could make our community look like rock stars. We couldn't believe it when we saw Terence's portfolio. His talent and skill blew us away," says Cherry.

Rushin joined the team in 2016. His photos add depth and visual context to many of the college's biggest stories. While less widely circulated than his concert photos, the Institute published Rushin's pictures of Charles Isbell with the announcement of the former dean of Computing's departure to the University of Wisconsin.

Terence Rushin at Dean's Holiday party
Rushin covers events for the college including the Dean's annual holiday party.

Rushin worked with Isbell on several photo and video projects while he was dean. The two bonded over a shared affinity for comic books and superheroes. Beyond knowing him from the College of Computing, Isbell, an avid live music fan, recalls seeing Rushin in action at concerts across Atlanta.

"Terence is an incredibly talented and gifted artist. Whether covering a student event or shooting The Time's reunion concert, he is a master of composition and light," says Isbell, University of Wisconsin provost.

"He knows how to capture underlying beauty, emotion, and humanity that create the moments in which we live. Terence is fun to watch work, and he's fun to be around – even if he doesn't get that DC is better than Marvel," adds Isbell.

Miley Cyrus performs at Atlanta's Music Midtownin 2021. Photo by Terence Rushin
Miley Cyrus performs at Atlanta's Music Midtownin 2021. Photo by Terence Rushin

Asked about the biggest difference between working at Georgia Tech and his freelance job covering concerts, Rushin smiles and says, "Well, I'd say the biggest difference is that I don't need earplugs at my day job."

Another difference is that his work with the college is collaborative and requires more planning. And, unlike concerts with bright lights, excited fans, and other built-in visual elements, it takes an artist's eye and an imaginative approach to bring academic and research stories to life.

"Finding creative ways to do this and allow student and faculty work to shine has been a fun challenge," says Rushin, father of two sons.

Despite the differences, Rushin says his work for the college and freelance work are similar because his goal is to capture "little moments" of emotions and personality in each setting.

Bringing a career into focus 

Trying to capture these moments is something Rushin has been doing since he got his first camera – a Nintendo Game Boy Camera – as a birthday gift from his parents in 1998. He was nine. The toy digital camera had limited capabilities, but he made the most of it.

"I would capture little moments and try making artsy things with it. You could also take pictures of yourself and insert your head into video games," Rushin says. "This was the first camera I remember getting, and it sparked my interest in photography."

His interest grew through middle school. At Our Lady of Mercy High School, Rushin was a yearbook staff photographer as a sophomore and advanced to photo editor and chief photographer as a senior.

Despite a growing passion for photography, Rushin started at West Georgia University as a math major. He joined the school newspaper and shot photos covering campus news and events. He was getting paid for his work but still considered photography a hobby.

André 3000 during an Outkast performance in 2013
OutKast's André 3000 during a performance in 2013. Photo by Terence Rushin

"It always just seemed like a hobby to me. I got $5 for every black and white picture and $10 for every color picture I took each week, and that would be the money for pizza," says Rushin.

He eventually changed his major to mass communications. The new major required an internship to graduate. He found an opportunity with a popular alternative radio station in Atlanta. This experience would bring Rushin's future in photography into focus.

Rushin supported the station's promotional events as an intern. The station didn't hire him as a photographer, but taking pictures of event attendees, sponsors, and displays for the station's website was part of the job. One evening, Rushin's supervisor said he could take photos of the performance during a listener event at the Tabernacle.

"It was an intimate acoustic performance from Staind singer Aaron Lewis. Nobody else was taking photos, so I got to move around the venue, which was cool," says Rushin.

Rushin was happy with his shots from the concert and eager to show them to his supervisor. "His literal reaction was, 'Wow, you did this? These are amazing!' From there, he started getting me photo passes to shoot the concerts that we were promoting as the radio station."

TWICE- TWICE World Tour III, State Farm Arena
South Korean girl group TWICE performing at State Farm Arena in 2022. Photo by Terence Rushin.

Rushin never looked back. He’s been a professional photographer ever since graduating, working freelance and full-time in the corporate world and higher education.

In the future, he wants to continue publishing his work in top magazines and media outlets. He also wants to travel the world as a tour photographer with Portugal the Man, Run the Jewels, or one of his other favorite artists.

"My two longstanding goals are to shoot a Super Bowl Halftime Show and to be sponsored by Canon as a 'Canon Explorer of Light,'" says Rushin.

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