From her teen years starring on the Seminole girls’ softball diamond to being crowned Miss Florida Seminole 2005, competing in the Miss Indian World Pageant twice and earning a bachelor’s degree in social work from Florida State University, McCall has worked hard for what she wants.
In June, the 26-year-old notched another accomplishment on her belt when she graduated from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale with an associate of science degree in photography.
Featured prominently at an entrance table for the school’s annual Graduation Portfolio show, McCall entertained a stream of captivated onlookers who viewed her unique collection of photographs and questioned her about her style and technique.
“This is what was needed to conclude this chapter of my life,” McCall said, taking a short break from distributing her resume and business cards and narrating the picture stories packed in a thick album of work samples.
But McCall knows graduation is another beginning. With classroom demands behind her, McCall plans to use her camera and her knowledge in social work – the interaction with groups or individuals to make positive improvements – to compel change in Indian Country. As a photojournalist, she intends to document the truth – all glory and scars.
“You can read all the words in the Wall Street Journal but that is not what connects you. I want to tell you what is happening so you can see it,” McCall said.
Already, McCall’s work can be seen at the Circle of Dance exhibit hosted by the Smithsonian Institute at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
She was published numerous times in 2012 as a photojournalist intern for The Seminole Tribune.
In 2010, McCall was a staff photographer for the Ultra Violet Extreme Performance Artists in Las Vegas.
Recently, in April, she produced portraits, action shots and other still photos for the Gathering of Nations Powwow website in Albuquerque, N.M.
“I love going to other reservations and learning about those cultures, issues and what people should know about them – even if it is touchy,” McCall said. “I want to get the word out through photojournalism.”
She clicked off a few topics: the need for clean running water, boarding schools and how some communities cope without educational advantages, and just about everything the Native American protest group Idle No More fights for, including social and environmental justice.
McCall has also been documenting good news events such as the recent Fourth of July party on the Hollywood Reservation, the senior trip to Hawaii and this year’s Miss Florida Seminole Princess Pageant. In coming weeks, she hopes to restore and scan historic photos for the Tribe’s genealogy archives.
Still, McCall is determined to answer her inner calling to inspire constructive change.
“It’s good to be able to show happiness even as it exists with the issues, but people also need to know about what they don’t want to see,” McCall said. “My generation did not experience the Seminole Wars, World War II or Vietnam, but we did go through 9/11. Our Tribal youth need to know that they do not exist in a bubble.”