Cynthia Viola

Wedding photographer Cynthia Viola ’07 breaks down how Lees-McRae prepared her to run her own business

When Cynthia Viola ’07 first started her wedding photography business, Cynthia Viola Art & Photography, she moved to Raleigh to help get the business off the ground. But after 10 years in the state’s capital, the mountains called her back to Banner Elk. 

Viola felt that Lees-McRae gave her so much during her undergraduate career, that she wanted to give back to the community she loved.  

“Lees-McRae was such a community-focused campus,” Viola said. “It’s so small that you really get to know everyone very well. It teaches you how to be a part of a small community like Banner Elk.” 

Another thing that Lees-McRae gave Viola was the academic coursework necessary to be both a skilled photographer and a successful business owner.  

While Viola says the photography and art classes she took during her time at Lees-McRae were extremely valuable in developing her technical skills, she sites her business, sociology, and psychology classes as what enabled her to start her own business. 

“Take all of the business classes,” Viola says. “I barely took any until the very end and I feel like those are the most invaluable classes to me.” 

Learn more about Cynthia Viola Art and Photography

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By Travis Stanley, Maya JarrellJanuary 21, 2022