Tara Pixley

Tara-Lynne Pixley

A scholar and theorist of visual media as well as a documentary photographer and filmmaker, Tara Pixley is interested in the role of visual representations of “the real,” particularly as it intersects with discursively produced conceptions of the Other.

Her Ph.D research in communication at UC San Diego is focused within the field of media studies, looking at contemporary visual journalism industry practices/practitioners and considering the role of the visual media producer in sociocultural construction/dissemination. Past work has attended to the relationship of image makers to subjects, frequently using filmic and photographic portraiture to probe the complexities of self-presentation/re-presentation, particularly as it pertains to conceptions of race and gender.

Her film Porn Star Quotidian on feminist adult film star Ela Darling has been screened internationally in film and media festivals from Los Angeles to Paris.  She is currently a Knight Visiting Fellow at Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, where she is creating an online platform to circulate news images from non-Western photographers globally.




  • Ph.D University of California San Diego, Communication, Expected 2017
  • M.A. Arts Administration, Savannah College of Art and Design, 2013
  • M.F.A. Photography, Savannah College of Art and Design, 2010
  • B.S. Philosophy and Journalism, Florida A&M University (Honors), 2005


  • Film and media studies
  • Journalism studies
  • Photography
  • Documentary studies
  • Visual culture
  • Post-colonial theory, Critical race studies
  • Feminist theory


  • Article. “Trope and Associates: Olivia Pope’s Scandalous Blackness.” The Black Scholar: Journal of Black Studies and Research, 45:1 (2015)  


2016 Knight Visiting Fellow, Nieman Journalism Foundation, Harvard University
2016 Interdisciplinary Collaboratories Grant, UCSD Graduate Division
2016 Graduate Research Grant, UC Consortium for Black Studies in California
2016 Best Film Prize: Porn Star Quotidian, Thinking Gender Conference, Los Angeles, CA
2015 Challenge America Grant, National Endowment for the Arts, San Diego, CA
2015 Excellence in Diversity Award, Equal Opportunity Office, UC San Diego
2015 Summer Research Grant, UCSD Communication Dept.
2012 Departmental Fellowship, UCSD Communication Dept.
2011 Edge|Public Festival Artist Grant, Atlanta, GA
2011 Best Photo Dept, Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, Creative Loafing, Atlanta, GA
2010 Best Photo Dept, Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, Creative Loafing, Atlanta, GA
2007 Chips Quinn Scholar
2006 Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Fellow
2005 New York Times Student Journalism Institute Fellow
2005 National Association of Black Journalists Scholar
2001-2005 Presidential Fellow, Florida A&M University




- News Media Workshop, UCSD, San Diego, 2016
- Intro to Photojournalism, UCSD, San Diego, 2016
- Intro to Time-Based Media, Art Institute of San Diego, San Diego, 2016
- Intro to Photojournalism, Art Institute of San Diego, San Diego, 2016
- Photography E-Portfolio, Art Institute of San Diego, San Diego, 2016
- Portraiture, Art Institute of San Diego, San Diego, 2016
- Introduction to Digital Photography, The Digital Media Lab, Course, San Diego, 2013
- Introduction to Digital Photography I, Showcase School, Atlanta, 2011-2012
- Introduction to Digital Photography II, Showcase School, Atlanta, 2012
- Visual Storytelling, Showcase School, Atlanta, 2012
- Video for DSLR, Showcase School, Atlanta, 2012
- Media Literacy, Young Artists/Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta, 2011-2012
- Visual Storytelling, Young Artists/Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta, 2011-2012


- Social Formations, UCSD, San Diego, 2015
- Visual Culture, UCSD, San Diego, 2015
- American News Media, UCSD, San Diego, 2014-2015
- Contemporary Minority Filmmakers, UCSD, San Diego, 2014
- News Television Analysis and Production, UCSD, San Diego, 2014
- Introduction to Media Production, UCSD, San Diego, 2013-2014
- Introduction to Communication, UCSD, San Diego, 2013
- The Photo Project, SCAD, Atlanta, 2010


- Journalism Studies Colloquium, Intl. Communication Association Conference, Fukuoka, Japan, 2016
Frame by Frame, Post-Screening Talk + Workshop, Panelist, WorldLink & University of San Diego, 2016
- “Through the Lens: Women & Representation,” Panelist, San Diego City College, 2016
- “Survival Skills for Diverse Grad Students,” Lead Panelist, UCSD Graduate Division, 2015
“Visual Ethnographies & Documentary Practices,” Guest Speaker, Studio for Ethnographic Design, 2015
“Girls Empowered to Make Media,” Co-instructor, Workshop, Girl Scouts of San Diego, 2015
“Photo Editing A Crisis: Newsweek on Ebola” Guest Lecture, American News Media, UCSD, Nov. 2014
“Art + Feminism,” Guest Speaker, Cross-Cultural Art Center Diversity Dinner, San Diego, 2013
“Day in the Life of a Photojournalist,” Workshop, The Showcase School, Atlanta, May 2012
“Thinking Multimedia,” Guest Speaker, Atlanta Technical College, Atlanta, Nov. 2011
“News Media in the Digital Era,” Guest Speaker, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Oct. 2011



Women in Light, LUXE Gallery, San Diego, Joint, Feb. 2016 
- “Creatives Rising” SEE Gallery, NYC, Joint Exhibit, Oct. 2013
- “Dames” Liberty Station Art Walk, San Diego, Solo exhibit, Nov. 2013
- “Dames” Atlantic Station, Atlanta, Solo exhibit, June 2011
-  Edge/Public, Grant recipient and artist, Atlanta, Jan. 2011
- “Dream of a Common Language” Arnall Golden Gregory, Atlanta, Joint exhibit, Jan. 2011
- “A Life Beyond Your Own” RAW Space, Atlanta, Joint exhibit, May 2010



- UCSD Sixth College Film Festival, Juror, San Diego, May 2016
- Adobe Creative Jam San Diego, Juror, San Diego, Feb. 2016
- Advisory Board Showcase, Digital Media Lab, Curator, San Diego, Feb. 2014 
- “On All the Time” Outside the Lens, Photography exhibit, San Diego, June 2013
- “My Atlanta” Atlanta Celebrates Photography, Photography exhibit, Atlanta, October 2010



Porn Star Quotidian, Defy Film Festival, Nashville, TN, August 2016
Porn Star Quotidian, University Film & Video Association Conference, Las Vegas, July 2016
Porn Star Quotidian, Ethnografilm Fest, Paris, March 2016
Porn Star Quotidian, Thinking Gender Women’s Conference, UCLA, Los Angeles, April 2016
LIFTed,  Gallery 221, Atlanta, April-May 2010


-  Vice President of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, GSA, UCSD, 2015-2016
-  Lead Teaching Assistant, Communication Department, UCSD, 2015-2016
-  Hiring Committee, Critical Media Production Faculty Search, Communication Dept., UCSD, 2015-2016
-  Co-chair, Diversity Advisory Council, UCSD, 2014-2015
-  Chair, Advisory Board, Outside the Lens, San Diego, 2013-2014

PhD. Students