"I had tried my hand at a couple things in the music industry," Lawrence says. "I led the life of an artist, a musician, singer-songwriter, but that wasn't going to be my direction. I tried copyright and licensing for a bit, but that was short-lived because I just knew (it wasn't for me) and started missing the photo and video aspects."
In Jackson, Lawrence says that he saw an opportunity to help solo artists and bands as a music photographer and videographer. He began putting together a list of what local musicians might want, need and appreciate. Of course, the first step was actually connecting with artists, he says.
"I knew no one—just knew that I wanted to try to be active in the music scene," Lawrence says.
In March 2015, he got his first assignment after asking blues musician Todd Thompson of the Lucky Hand Blues Band for permission to photograph his performance at Hal & Mal's. After that first show, Lawrence says he knew that he was on the right track.
"I've done my best, and I've succeeded thus far in making a career of it," he says. "I knew this was what I wanted to do. I started doing the grunt work, ... crawling around on a lot of barroom floors, photographing bands for no charge, just to get to know them and show the music scene that's around here—both original and cover bands alike."
Ever since then, Lawrence has managed to make his living solely from word-of-mouth marketing and referrals.
"I do not carry business cards, I don't have a website, and I don't put rates up," he says. "... To me, reputation is the most important thing for anybody when they're trying to grow a business—your reputation, your integrity and how you deal with people."
Despite not advertising his services in a traditional way, he has been able to work with artists from every genre and level, including Grammy Award-winning blues musician Grady Champion, rock artist Chad Wesley, and country acts such as the Jason Miller Band and Shayne Weems.
One of the reasons that Lawrence is so excited to create visual content alongside a wide variety of musicians is that he loves every style of music, he says.
His success has opened the door for even more opportunities through Hit the Road Entertainment and Malaco Music Group's imprint label, Old Trace Records. Both companies regularly hire him to create video content for their artists. Several of his music videos have already been up for awards this year.
His video for Old Trace signee Stace & Cassie's "Broken Paths" won Best Overall Music Video at the 2017 Oxford Film Festival, and another for the duo's "A Hard Rain" was nominated for Music Video of the Year at the 2017 Josie Music Awards in Nashville.
His video for blues artist Robert King's "Stomping Grounds" was recently nominated for Music Video of the Year at the Artists Music Guild Heritage Awards, and Stevie J Blues' "Lil Mo Love" video is in consideration for the 2018 Grammy Awards.
While Lawrence says that he is glad for the recognition, he finds the most joy in trying new things behind the lens and learning more about his craft each day.
For more information, find J.B. Lawrence on Facebook. To view some of his video work, visit his YouTube or Vimeo pages.