Every day, someone new picks up their first camera. Some will become hobby photographers, some will find a career as a commercial shooter, and some will create mind-tingling images that could only come from their imagination and not yours.
Film Photographer Jacquie Ray has the mind and spirit of every wild animal both real and mythical. She’s brave and noble with every move, crafting her images to embody the idea that beauty does not come in any one shape, size, color or gender.
High Creatives was born out of Jacquie’s exquisite imagery that openly flirts with a free world of color and love that anyone can be a part of. Jacquie follows her own unique path of photography and film, where her talent and love of the form flourishes daily and grows with every images she makes. We caught up with Jacquie Ray on a dreamy Saturday morning in Echo Park where we got to ask her a million questions about her past work, future projects and methods.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in West LA but really I’d say Los Angeles in general born and raised.
What inspired you to get into photography?
I remember getting my first camera when I was about 5 years old. My parents had taken me on my first Disneyland trip where they gave me a point and shoot camera. I remember being so excited when I was using it , I have no idea what happened to the pictures hahaha. Since then I just remember always being interested in photography. When I was older and I started to think about what I wanted to pursue as an interest I began taking photography classes in 9th grade. My photography teacher was super inspiring throughout my four years and I applied to the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) where I later completed my B.A. in photography.
What’d you do after you received your B.A.?
I was completely lost afterward. I had spent three and half years living in SF while I was in school where I later graduated and couldn’t afford to keep living. So I moved back home to Los Angeles. There was a feeling I couldn’t shake that made me feel lost with photography. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it since I had been in art school and had to do all these required projects and having to think about things that were just based on what I was given to do.
Did it feel like there was too much structure?
Oh completely! It was 100% fully structured where day to day I was doing all these photo projects that I didn’t feel connected to aside for them being required for school. I was so involved with school that when I got back to LA I didn’t know where I wanted to go artistically. So I stopped shooting…
How long did you stop shooting for?
It was about four years
Damn, that’s a long time, what kept you tied up?
I was caught up with a job I had during that time, I was an assistant principle at an Elementary Charter School. Doing that for four years had me real comfortable. Going to college left me with so many debts so the money really came in handy to help pay stuff off. It wasn’t until I finally sat down and thought about what I wanted and realized I wasn’t doing any art or photography. I was so unhappy. I knew photography was what I always wanted to do so I quit my job and started High Creatives.
We noticed your audience is growing larger and larger by the day, how long has High Creatives been going for?
It’s been going for almost two years now. When I quit my job I went full force into this. I push all the time to keep working and creating with new people. High Creatives will keep growing, I don’t keep count of how many photo shoots I’ve done I just keep going.
Do you think having patience and good people skills plays a role in your work?
Yes, I think I have a lot of patience for people. Living a life without so much judgment feels good so I try to never judge my subjects or anyone I come in contact with. I like to hear people out because it makes working with people that are their own person that much better. I love that people feel comfortable with me. It’s something I’m proud of and that I want to keep it going.
Why do you shoot film?
I started shooting black and white film in high school, then later in college I shot color film. During my first two years in school I was able to shoot and study film before the curriculum was later changed to using digital. Again being so caught up with school I went with the trend and stopped using film and got into digital. So I became familiar with both methods but at the time I just wanted to get school over with.
Later when I started to get back into photography I felt so uninspired using a digital camera that it just felt right to use film. After seeing the first set I shot on film developed, I knew that was all I wanted to use. I fell in love all over again. Film is why I wanted to get into photography. Seeing your negatives and the whole process is amazing. I built my own dark room and just got so into developing my own film. Maybe if I had kept shooting digital I would of stopped doing photography, but thankfully I came back to film.
So you do your own developing?
When I was in High school I worked at a photo lab in Culver City and I went back to see the owners and they were happy to develop my film. At the time I heard it was taking a long time to get film developed so I was pretty lucky to get hooked up…. but, I still felt disconnected. I didn’t like having to wait for my film to get processed because when I shot film before in school I was used to shooting and developing my negatives right away.
One of my favorite things about film is the smell of the chemicals, I remember being in the dark room for hours wearing hoodies and clothes that smelled like developer and fixer. I would go home and sleep in the same clothes and I’d inhale that scent all day and it became apart of me. I knew I wanted to give myself to film; I was ready to start developing my own negatives again.
How’d you learn to develop and eventually form your own style of processing?
I went on Google and looked up film processing and read about what chemicals to order and I just went from there learning how to develop my own color film. Now, I’ve developed my own potion.
If someone asked you to choose one camera and film to shoot with what would they be?
I would have to say my Canon AE-1. That’s my baby; since I got her its’ completely changed how I want my images to be. As for film, I shoot with all film. Whatever I can get I’ll shoot, but if I could have access to whatever I’d want I’d say Portra 400. To have fun I’ll buy random boxes of film online that’ll consists of rolls of films I’ve never seen or that are sometimes expired. You never know what you’ll get with those.
Can you tell us about your series “the Beauty of Men”?
There was a moment where I was stuck on a series, I remember being on Instagram and thinking there are so many photos of girls and I just thought “I wanna get men naked for me so I can photograph them”. I’ve always been fond of photographing men since I was in high school. I would always pick dudes to be my subjects. My college professor told me they noticed I had a way of getting men to bare themselves in a non sexual way but in a comfortable expressive way.
There are moments I’ve shared with men where they’ve been vulnerable and I’ve enjoyed learning how self conscious men are with their bodies. I know women can have this problem but it’s a very big issue for men. It feels nice to help these guys become comfortable with their own bodies and it’s amazing to see myself grow with these men as they bare their everything to me.
Finish this sentence…
Los Angeles is the land of….. the beautiful and open minded freaks!
As always we have to close with our most important question… What’s your favorite taco spot?
Sky’s Tacos on Pico! Their shrimp taco is my favorite, I order it without cilantro.
To stay in touch with Jacquie Ray’s magical photos be sure to follow her Instagram and Tumblr: