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Life & Work with Jacqueline Ayala

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jacqueline Ayala.

Hi Jacqueline, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Born and raised on the Missouri side of Kansas City, I actually began my artistic journey through music and was fortunate to have the artistic outlet of playing a musical instrument as a young teen. I feel like music shaped me in a lot of ways but it ultimately taught me how to appreciate art and it continues to inspire a lot of my work today. Even though music was my first passion, I always knew photography was an art form I wanted to explore. It wasn’t until I was ready for college that I decided to take my first photography class and once I took my first course, I never looked back. That class opened my mind to new possibilities and a whole new career path that I just fell in love with. I started my photo journey with a 35mm film camera that I purchased at a local pawn shop and after four years of art school, I received my BA in Photography. Once I graduated college, I was eager to find my way in the photo industry and took up any opportunity I could that could provide me with hands on experience on and off set. Since then, I have been working professionally with clients in cities coast to coast and continue to work on my portfolio under my photo alias Photo By Ayala.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Some of the biggest struggles I’ve had along the way was having financial support and finding mentors I could seek guidance from. Being a first-generation college student and going to art school was still a fairly new concept for me and my family. When I made the decision to pursue photography, I was also making the commitment to financially support myself through art school which was very challenging. As a Latina artist trying to find her way in a male-dominated industry, I’ve encountered many moments that confirmed what I already knew when it comes to the lack of representation for women of color on and off set. Although this was something, I struggled with it also became a big motivator for me to continue pursuing photography and connect with other women of color photographers/creatives who inspire me.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
As a bicultural Latina artist, I focus on creating visuals to uplift women of color through empowering imagery. I specialize in a wide variety of areas ranging from portraits to fashion to commercial work.

I am most proud of my latest bodies of work, “Black and Brown Unity” and “No More Stolen Sisters”.

“Black and Brown Unity” is a series created to respectfully pay homage to the solidarity between the Brown Berets and Black Panthers in the movement. To honor their legacy, their work, and to show the beauty of black and brown unity, strength, power, and love.

“No More Stolen Sisters” is a series created to stand in solidarity with my Indigenous sisters. To raise awareness to all the missing and murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2-Spirit People.

I am very proud of this work because it really was a turning point in my photo journey in where I moved past my personal fears and created work that touched upon issues and topics that are important to me. This work gives me strength and is a powerful reminder to myself and why I got into photography.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
My biggest advice to anyone who is just starting out and wants to pursue a career in photography is to remember that this career is a never-ending journey that teaches you a lot about yourself, so be patient. Find a mentor, ask questions, never stop learning, make time to create for yourself, experiment, try something new, be thankful of people and opportunities that allow you to grow, and ultimately have fun with it.

There is A LOT I wish I knew when I was starting out! For starters, I wish I knew more about the financial aspect of photography and how expensive it can get when equipment and supplies are involved. Learning is honestly the easiest part, especially with the easy access we now have to the internet and technology; you could basically learn so much for free. I also think if I knew or had better guidance on how art school worked (because it is a little different) I would have been able to take advantage and be more strategic in what I was learning.

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