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Tommie Lewis moved to Jacksonville in 1990 when his father and mother relocated their family here for the Navy. His mother bought him his first Kodak instant camera when he was 13 years old and he’s been hooked on photography ever since.

 

“Shutter Buggin” is the term he uses when capturing photos. He enjoys taking candid pictures of people on the street, architecture and landscape. He said his photography gives him a sense of purpose.

 

You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but Tommie has a 20-year-old daughter and hopes she will grow up in a world that is peaceful and tolerant of everybody regardless of their economical status or sexual orientation. “Peace and love is the only way to get rid of negativity,” he said.

 

Tommie thinks Downtown Jacksonville should be thriving like other cities, and overall he would like see Jacksonville’s level of crime, shooting and killings to go down. “Too many people are losing their lives,” he said.

 

Tommie himself hit a rough patch about five years ago after a relationship ended and he wound up homeless. When asked how he got through that tough time he said family. “Without them, honestly, I would be dead. I honestly would have taken myself out because I’m not built for the homeless life,” he said.

 

Tommie tried to commit suicide three times and once died for three minutes before being resuscitated. He has since realized that it’s not his time to go and believes that he is here for a reason. Even though he may not know what it is, he’s determined to stick around and find out.

 

“If you keep holding on it will get better.”