Lukas Flippo has Mississippi — and now Yale — as his brand
Lukas Flippo left his home in Amory, Mississippi, four years ago to come to Yale, and he brought his whole town with him.
Amory’s people and places, its rhythms and reveries, influenced many of Flippo’s activities at Yale, from the way he shot and edited photographs for the Yale Daily News (YDN) to the joy he brought to his radio work as host of “The States We Call Home” on WYBC.
“I’ve joked that Mississippi is my brand, but it really is something that informs my life,” said Flippo, a graduating senior from Ezra Stiles and a first-generation college student. “I think about it all the time.”
It’s also a two-way trip. Flippo’s Yale experiences have served him well when he’s returned home for internships at the Mississippi Free Press in Jackson and the Sun Herald in Biloxi. (He’s also worked as a Pulliam Fellow at the Indianapolis Star.) Working in these newsrooms, Flippo has written about small town triumphs and tragedies, covered student protests, documented the effects of natural disasters, and photographed both the Indianapolis 500 and the first round of the World Series Stickball Championships in Choctaw, Mississippi.
Along the way, Flippo’s photos have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, TIME, and the Wall Street Journal.
“My passion is local news and the things that happen in everyday life that mean something to us,” he says. “I’m interested in what small communities are doing to re-invent themselves — or not re-invent themselves — over a period of years. That’s what my life’s work will revolve around.”
Flippo’s college career, in addition to working at the YDN, included taking photos for the Yale Athletics Department and the student magazine The New Journal. Flippo is an American Studies major in Visual, Literary, and Performative Cultures.
He said his first semester at Yale was challenging — particularly being away from family and childhood friends. But as he became more involved in student activities, such as the newsroom culture at the YDN, new friendships took root.
“I came into Yale with the idea that everything in life had a right answer and a wrong answer,” he said. “I think now I have a better sense of nuance and empathy for other people and their perspectives. For me, Yale was a real crash course in saying, ‘I don’t know the answer, but I want to learn.’”
Flippo said he’ll bring that sensibility to his work this summer as recipient of a Reinke Grant for Visual Storytelling, documenting life in Harrison County, Kentucky. Beyond that, he plans to chart a course for himself in media.
“We’re at an important moment, I think,” he said. “People need some things they can trust, and photographs, particularly, can be real documents of the truth.”