Success Without Schooling: Jessica Lehrman


01Jessica Lehrman is a Brooklyn-based photographer whose work has been featured in publications such as Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Billboard, VICE and more. Jessica spent part of her childhood being unschooled in a motorhome on the road in America. In 2014, she documented her family’s nomadic lifestyle for The New York Times and garnered wide acclaim for the story, establishing herself not just as a photographer but as a writer as well.


San Francisco, California -MARCH 27th, 2013: Meechy Darko of The Flatbush Zombies, rests on the crowd after stage diving during his set at Slim’s on the BEASTCOASTAL tour, his groups first full US tour. CREDIT: Jessica Lehrman for The New York Times


In a June 2015 Reddit AMA, Jessica talked about her work: “Through my adventures, I’ve spent a large part of my time documenting the lives of the rappers in the underground NY Hip hop movement. I’ve also spent time doing pieces on the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Jermaine Dupri, Yoko Ono, The Flaming Lips, A$AP Rocky and Rick Ross. I’ve been documenting the countercultures of New York’s various underground movements — with a big focus on music, entertainment and political movements and uprisings — for the last five years.”

200803Is there a connection between unschooling as a teenager and her work? “I am incredibly self-motivated and see my work in a very project-oriented, fun, workshop sense which I’m sure has a lot to do with the way I saw my education as a teenager. I really only put my heart and soul into projects that I find meaningful and important and I enjoy the process just as much as the outcome.”

Jessica, along with other Not Back to School Camp alumni, is returning to NBTSC this summer to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first Not Back to School Camp. She says:

“Not Back to School Camp played a HUGE ROLE in my life! I would say the way that I look at friendships and relationships and education all being incredibly interconnected and magically important is from camp. Coming to the realization as a teenager that I could learn more from my peers and the people around me than in a traditional school has transcended into my adult life in a profound way where I almost feel like leaving school after middle school has put me in the mindset that I am forever in school, taking everything and everyone as potential lessons.”






You can see more of Jessica’s work at


Jessica will be joining us as a special alumni guest at Not Back to School Camp this year. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first ever Not Back to School Camp, we are hosting a handful of alumni as special guests who will connect with campers, contribute their perspectives, and share their passions. Additional special guests will be announced in the coming weeks.