We had the good fortune of connecting with Jaya Nicole and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jaya, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking is scary if were being honest. Taking a risk pushes you into the unknown. It puts you in uncomfortable situations. I do it on purpose though. Something about me is I always want to be learning, and to remain teachable. Being uncomfortable causes me to think harder, ask more questions, and make the necessary shifts I need too. You should never be too comfortable. Life has infinite opportunities and possibilities so try. Risk taking is trying something and not being worried about the outcome. Take risks often! I am talking to my audience when I say this but also myself. If I didn’t make any uncomfortable choices I would still be living with my parents and curious about life instead of just living it and having new experiences.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is an extension of me. I am divinely crafted by God and no one is like me. That’s my power. If someone were to copy me or vice versa (not likely) it still would not be the same. I am an individual and that’s what sets me apart. The most exciting part to me is the very beginning and the very end. Making the mood board and planning the shoot is so fun because it is all up to me. Its what I want and I can make it anything. Then to see the final and have my thoughts be made into a visual is so fulfilling. I’m where I am from really pushing and believing in myself. Consistency is the big contender. I feel the only true difference between me and those in higher positions is consistency. “practice makes perfect” is a very true statement. More consistency means the more you do will bring more experience and that’s how you truly learn is through experiencing. When challenges arise I take my time with myself and it is hard but its like I’m forced to when it happens. Its all my ego, most of my challenges come from me and my perspective about that challenge. My lessons are to be patient and to trust my feelings. All I’ve got is me in the grand scheme of things, I take me wherever I go. And with that I must walk with the confidence of knowing who I am but also knowing I have room to do better. I want the world to know that they should start paying attention now because soon they will have no choice but to know who I am and see my work. I also want all the black people in the world to know I do this for them too, not just me. I want them to know I love them and I hope they love my art because I keep them in mind when I do it. And if the world likes what I do then they can do it too, just never like me.

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?
I love this question. Houston is known for their food places so its a must to go get some. My favorite places are Sunshine’s Vegetarian food store, Soul Food Vegan, Lydianas, 88 spice, and Lost and Found. A photo studio I hold dear to my heart is Sanman Studios they have always showed me love. They have lots of creative events there so I’m always excited to see what they come up with. I would recommend Exchange to Change which is a Black-Woman-Owned thrift store, another place that shows creatives in the city a lot of love. The art museums here are great as well.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to first thank myself. This is not to be selfish but uplift me. At the end of the day its me. I can get as much help or constructive criticism and advice but its all up to me and I’m still here. However, I must thank my friends. They show me the most support with photography. They know what it takes for me to be confident enough to do this and they encourage me. They remind me who I am. A special thank you to Dalesia, Dominique, Jordan, and Janaya. Those women inspire me just by living their lives along with the work they do. I am also thankful for the random support I get from folks on the internet! People buying my prints and sending DMs about how much they l’ve my work always feels great.

Website: https://jayagafford18.wixsite.com/byjayanicole

Instagram: @m00dyphotography @jay.nic0le

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