With women’s history upon us, we wanted to highlight the women of the future who are breaking barriers in their industry. As someone who’s had her work featured in “Essence“, “TheBlkGaze”, and “Black Women Photographers” I was very excited to interview Jada Imani M. It’s a name you should remember as she is a master of visual narrative capturing phenomenal artists like Cheakaity, BrainRapp, and Cecily. Simply put Jada Imani M is one of the best photographers in the DMV period! As someone with such an incredible eye for detail, I was honored to talk to Jada about her work, her inspirations, and women’s history.
Q: Thank you for being here with us today! First off as an advocate for mental health I always ask. How are you doing? How has your 2021 been so far?
Jada Imani M: Aw, I really appreciate it. My 2021 has been pretty good so far. Coming into this year I told myself I was going to be more positive and confident in all aspects of life.
Q: For the people unfamiliar with you and your work, where were you born and raised?
Jada Imani M: I was born in DC, raised in District Heights, MD.
Q: At what age did you pick up a camera? At what age did you fall in love with photography?
Jada Imani M: Honestly… I picked up the camera as a child, but only for family trips. It was never something I necessarily wanted to pursue until I was 20 years old.
Q: Do you remember the moment, you thought “Okay this is what I want to do for the rest of my life”. And is this something you want forever?
Jada Imani M: After I took a studio photography class in 2017 I realized I could be a professional photographer. I don’t think I saw it as a career choice until 2018. That was the year I stepped up the most.
Q: I know you started your photography journey at The Art Institute of Washington. Since you studied digital filmmaking and video production, can we expect to see some of your work possibly in the future on the big screen in movie theaters?
Jada Imani M: Filmmaking is still the goal. I have done a few music videos and documentaries, but I have a long way to go. You will definitely see my work on the big screen.
Q: What photographers inspire you and has it changed since you first started?
Jada Imani M: Adrienne Raquel, Donte Maurice, Ahmad Barber, Inari Briana, The Ally Green, Cloudnaii, Ian Hippo, Joshua Kissi… I could go on. When I first started, I was mostly inspired by Jessica Kobeissi. She does these challenges called “4 Photographers Shoot the Same Model” and those challenges helped me think more about timing and how to get great shots in a short time frame.
Q: Following your work for quite a while now, I’ll never forget the SZA inspired shoot you did in 2018! What was the creative process like during that time and how long did it take?
Jada Imani M: Mannnnn that was a lot of work. I think that may have been my first time using Pinterest to find inspiration for a shoot. I had to find the model, makeup artist, and location. I ended up making the tulle skirt she wore in the shoot and buying clocks from the thrift store. The MUA, Maya, ended up being the production assistant and breaking the clocks for us. The editing process was… extensive, but worth it.
Q: You also recently completed your passion project COLORS which was amazing by the way! What inspired that shoot?
Jada Imani M: Thank you! COLORS is a project I started in 2019 where I cast 14-15 Black women models. This time around I knew I wanted to positively showcase the beauty of dark skin Black people. There still isn’t enough positive representation and instead of complaining, I decided to do something about it.
Being yourself isn’t overrated. Don’t feel like you have to fit into the mold society pressures you to fit into.
Q: Are there any brands or people that you haven’t worked with that you want to work with one day?
Jada Imani M: So many… I want to work with Telfar, Pyer Moss, Golfwang, Fenty, Pattern Beauty, and Sienna Naturals are my top choices as of right now.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Jada Imani M: I see myself living in a nice house in a warm climate and I am living solely off my artistry.
Q: As we focus on women’s history month who are some women that inspired you in your journey?
Jada Imani M: My mom, Raven Symone, Viola Davis, Jessica Kobeissi, Adrienne Raquel, and Issa Rae, just to name a few.
Q: What does women’s history mean to you?
Jada Imani M: Women’s history month, much like Black history month, is something we should celebrate all year. I love the extra attention and appreciation we receive, but we are much more than our accomplishments. Overall, I enjoy people showing love and appreciation for women. I just hope we can keep the same energy year-round.
Q: For the women and little girls out there who look up to you and want to follow in your footsteps, what is some advice you could offer them?
Jada Imani M: Being yourself isn’t overrated. Don’t feel like you have to fit into the mold society pressures you to fit into.
Q: What can the people expect from you next?
Jada Imani M: March 15th-April 11th, my photo titled “Unity” from COLORS 2020 will be on display at a bus stop on 14th and U St. If you are in the DMV please check it out and take a photo by it. Please tag me! I have some other projects I am working on, but I don’t like to speak until it gets done.
Q: Thank you so much for taking the time! We look forward to seeing what’s next!
Jada Imani M: Thank you for this interview!
To keep with all things Jada Imani M please follow her socials and TAG YOUR PHOTOGRAPHERS!