Today we’d like to introduce you to Jazley Faith.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I often describe dance as my first love. In those terms, photography has been my sidekick, my partner in crime. I started photography in high school, honestly, because my friends were into it. While my guy friends were into Tarantino and figuring out the best fake-blood solution for their homemade short films, I was interested in dance, and the visual possibilities it had with photography. I started taking photos at studio dress rehearsals and during class, with whatever camera I could get my hands on. Once I realized I had a knack for timing and composition, I asked for a camera set for my summer birthday before college and received a starter Nikon D3100 kit from Costco. I spent that summer taking pictures of my dance friends outside of the studio, and I caught the bug.
Once on the UC Irvine campus, I started taking pictures for fun–of my roommates and friends, and soon dancers from the department shortly after. I had also gotten a job at the dance studio across the street from campus and got to know the dancers and local families there. I also joined the salsa club, and while out dancing at socials, met some local independent photographers.
Over the next three years of school, I said ‘yes’ to every photography opportunity that arose. I started off with a few free photoshoots with some dancers, on campus and from the studio. Anything was an opportunity to learn: I traveled with a ballroom dance photography company throughout the years, was an assistant to several wedding shoots, and collaborated with anyone who was willing. I asked the dance studio if I could put out postcards and business cards, and soon, fellow faculty members and parents were asking me to take headshots for their kids’ auditions, or family portraits for their Christmas cards.
During my junior and senior years of school, I joined the on-campus organization called AnteaterTV. I was put in touch with the arts department and created short video content for the different arts departments. I rose the ranks from intern with the arts to Executive Producer, overseeing all content produced. My senior year, I landed an internship with the notorious and now defunct newspaper, OC Weekly. Under then-editor-in-chief, Gustavo Arellano, I got to photograph and/or video a wide range of local events, from the Russian Mariinsky Ballet, to burlesque shows at dive bars, to promotional marketing content for newspaper sponsors. During this time, I was also pushing 16 units towards completing a double major degree, teaching at various dance studios, and running AnteaterTV, as well as a university chapter of Movement Exchange–a non-profit that sends college students to Panamá to teach dance to underprivileged kids.
Post-graduation, and currently, I continue to teach dance and practice photography, while maintaining a couple of day jobs. Due to the hard hustle I pushed in college, I’ve been fortunate enough to keep a few photoshoots on the calendar every month. Although my time is much more limited due to my other jobs, being behind the camera is always a pleasure, and often, a relief. I still do book a variety of shoots: from dance and headshots to family portraits and lifestyle content, and most recently, weddings have been knocking. I’m so blessed that people still remember me, and most of my work comes from word of mouth since I don’t market myself. Although photography isn’t my primary form of income, it remains a passion, and more importantly, has been the medium that has granted me access to so many thrilling and memorable experiences.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m spoiled. Photography has always been fairly simple for me, as I was at the right place at the right time. When I moved to Irvine, I was in with the right networks and the right people. If I had arrived 1 or 2 years later, the circumstances wouldn’t have been in my favor, as business models changed, people moved away, or opportunities simply not existing. The biggest luck I’ve had is networking and having my work being shared through word-of-mouth. Without social media, and a handful of people taking a chance on me, I never would have built the body of work I have today.
Jazley Faith Photography – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I specialize and prefer dance photography. I can and will take photographs or other kinds: lifestyle, family, product, etc, but my heart is with dancers. As a dancer and instructor, I can give specific feedback to dancers on their positions and technique, to create the largest visual impact on camera. I also have a journalism background, so I’m great at thinking on my feet and making what I have in front of me, work. In journalism, editing or altering photos is not allowed–you get what you get. And that’s part of the fun for me–I love to improvise and try different or odd things. You never know what the results will be, and it’s exciting.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I believe my proudest moment is yet to come. I’ve had a few small triumphs here and there, but nothing specifically with my photography that I’d send home to mom and dad. A couple of my favorite moments happened while photographing the Mariinsky and American Ballet Theaters for OC Weekly. The access photography–and in this case, photojournalism–has granted me some awesome moments. The slideshows and sites are down now, but being backstage and witnessing the inner workings of two of the most reputable ballet companies in the world, was thrilling. I ran into Misty Copeland (who is actually more petite than I had imagined), and also walked straight into the legs of a principal dancer of the Mariinksy (I’m 5 feet tall, and this guy must’ve been over 6 feet easily).
Outside of the photography, I did get one article published with OC Weekly during my internship. I had the pleasure of interviewing and writing about dance legend, Mr. Donald McKayle. I helped coordinate the photoshoot with his ensemble of dancers, and I fought for him to be included in the issue during production. I wear nearly in tears when I picked up that week’s issue and saw the photo and my words on the page. I believe it may have been the last published piece about him before his passing. I got to hand him an issue of the newspaper and show him the article, and he said “Is that me?” with the beautiful smile on his face. I was just so happy to be able to pay homage to him and his greatness.
- Dance Sessions: $100-$300
- Headshots: $100-250
- Family Portraits: $250-$300
- Website: jazleyfaithphotography.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jazleyfaithphoto/
All of the images are mine (Jazley Faith), with the exception of the group photo featuring Mr. Donald McKayle & his dancers–which was taken by Nicholas Iverson.