NMU alumnus shoots a photography first

Trinity Carey

An NMU art and design graduate photographed the first U.S. fitness magazine to feature a woman wearing a hijab.

James Farrell graduated from NMU in 2007 and photographed 6-time marathon runner and mother of three, Rahaf Khatib from Farmington Hills in Detroit for the front page of the October issue of Women’s Running magazine.

The cover has largely received media attention for being the first of its kind.

“I’m definitely flattered by all of the attention it’s receiving, but I didn’t know it was the first of its kind until after I had finished the shoot,” Farrell said, according to an NMU press release.

He was surprised to hear a cover such as this had never been done before and accredited Women’s Running for pushing the boundaries for magazine covers.

“I shot one that featured a plus-size model, which was also a first and gained a lot of traction. The magazine is always expanding the realm of running by showing the diverse women who are out there doing it,” Farrell said. “They don’t all conform to one type.”

Farrell specializes in sports, action and fitness photography. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Shape and Sports Illustrated.

He first gained interest in photography in his hometown of Petoskey where he worked at his stepfather’s 1-hour photo business.

During his time at NMU, Farrell found an interest in photographing students snowboarding, mountain biking and other outdoor activities.

“Northern gave me my first real chance to go out on my own, learn new techniques and figure out what I wanted to do,” Farrell said. “My professors challenged me on a regular basis to make stronger and better work.”