Stanley Leary


Stanley was born in Kinston, a small town in Eastern North Carolina. Here his father worked as a minister at Kennedy Home, an orphanage. While most people have a few kids to play with while growing up, Stanley had a cottage of thirty some young boys next door. Not to mention close to a couple of hundred other school age children. These early years of his parents reaching out and helping those children had a major impact on his life.

People watching is one of Stanley's favorite hobbies. Driven to understand people better, Stanley majored in Social Work at East Carolina University. Uncle, Knolan Benfield, introduced him to photography and specifically to photojournalism. He discovered how to turn his hobby of watching people into a career. So while in college Stanley worked for: the school newspaper, The East Carolinian; the school yearbook, The Buccaneer; and the public relations office. After four years at ECU, Stanley earned his Bachelor of Science in Social Work.

After graduating from ECU Stanley went to work at The Hickory Daily Record in Hickory, North Carolina as a photojournalist. Through the help of Chief Photographer Robert Reed and Knolan Benfield, Stanley was able to refine his skills with the camera and capture those moments he had been seeing all his life.

Knolan had worked with Don Rutledge at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board in Atlanta, Georgia. Don was Knolan's mentor. Before working for the church, Don was a staff photographer for Black Star, one of the top photo agencies in the world. During the Civil Rights Movement Don photographed writer John Howard Griffen during his transformation into a black man living in the South. This later became the book Black Like Me. Don was an ordained Baptist minister who exchanged the pulpit for a camera. He preached with the camera. His illustrations were no longer with words in the pulpit, but with photographs on the printed page.

One night while processing film in the darkroom at the paper, Stanley got a call from Don. Don was then the senior photographer at the Southern Baptist International Mission Board in Richmond, Virginia. Don asked if Stanley would be interested in an entry level position as a photographer. Excited about working with someone he had admired for years, Stanley took the job and moved to Virginia.

Stanley listened to Don and learned as much as he could from this outstanding photojournalist. After working with Don Rutledge, Warren Johnson and Joanna Pinneo for five years, Stanley went off to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. His study of people led him to the core of people, their hearts and spirits. His studies at the seminary were for a Masters of Arts in Communications. However, he also was able to study theology and education. These courses stretched his mind and compassion even more for people.

Stanley graduated with his M.A. In Communications on May 17, 1993 and immediately drove to Atlanta, Georgia to start working with Georgia Institute of Technology as a photographer. He worked at Georgia Tech until April 2002. Now he does freelance work for many different clients including Georgia Tech.