We had the good fortune of connecting with Jakayla Monay and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jakayla, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
KNOW YOUR VALUE!!! There are people out there who will try to devalue your work and pay you what they think you are worth. I am not paying thousands of dollars for equipment and studying my craft for 6+ hours a day for you to offer me $50 for a 9-hour event, and not even that. It happened to me. Crazy enough I took it because I didn’t know my value. As a photographer, I do understand that certain events I will do for free for experience and out of love. But if you are offering to pay me, please ask what my fee is and not offer me what you think I should get paid. I am a very honest, understanding, and fair person. If you DO NOT see value in someone’s art and work ethic DO NOT book them. Also, the biggest lesson I learned is that DO NOT be afraid to stand up for yourself. I was at an event and no bad blood between us, it just part of my story now. But, I was asked to take pictures using someone I was cool with camera, and I did. Rookie mistake. Well, those images were posted in Houston Press and they credited someone else. He told me how great they were and thanked me for helping out that morning. Later that morning, they shared the article that entire day and I only found out about it because someone sent it to me. It was a lot of fingerpointing, and It took a week for them to change and credit me. I was hurt, but I truly believe it was a lesson that I had to have.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
What sets me apart from others? That question is hard for me because everyone that I admire, from a photography perspective, is on their A-game. You can tell that my peers and I study hard. My friends and those that I’m always asking for advice from would say my work ethic. I stay up for hours getting my shoot and vision right. I write my ideas out and organize them so that I can execute them perfectly. By the time of the shoot, I more than likely changed my ideas a thousand times. Lol, I have so many notes from my shoots. Once I’m done for the day, I go back and compare my old images to where I am now to see my growth and to see what I can do differently. Even now I hate my pictures sometimes, lol. I’m never satisfied with my work. I am so hard on myself, but it’s who I am. I got to where I am today by being patient and just pure hard work, there is no way around it. Granted I still have so much to accomplish, but I’m getting there. It’s not easy, I am so critical of my work. I just want to be a legend in my field. I have my days where I want to give up. I’ll be in the middle of a shoot and happy to be there taking pictures and while editing I will feel like all of them are terrible. The images don’t even be terrible, it’s just me getting in the way of my success. To overcome those challenges, I have to take it one day at a time, know I love what I do, and continue to put in the work. In the words of Greg Noire “It’s ok to suck sometimes.” The two lessons that I learned would be to KNOW YOUR VALUE and SPEAK UP FOR YOURSELF. I want the world to know that at the moment I am a one-woman show. I set up my equipment, schedule appointments, scout locations, and edit all by myself. And still, have a fulltime corporate job. It’s not a joke, lol. Each image you see, I probably spent 45 minutes to an hour editing. Just in one session, I have to go through 400 pictures before I even get to editing… so do the math. I take my art seriously and I love what I do. My brand will only grow from here.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friends came to town the first place I would take them to is Specs, we have to pregame and rollup before any occasion, lol. From there, Roof Top Cinema. I adore that place. Next, I would take them to Axelrad and Truckyard Houston for some games, live music, drinks, and overall fun. I love food trucks so it’s only right to take them to Twisted Grilled Cheese, Yo-Yo’s Hot Dog, The Turkey Leg Hut, or (MY FAV!!!) Mico’s Hot Chicken.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
God deserves all of the credit. He gave me my passion, my vision, my drive. God has brought me through a lot of tough times. My parents and siblings for supporting my vision and career. Also, for always making me laugh, keeping my head on straight, and given me great advice. Lastly, my best friends for just being 100% real and never folding on me.