Updated: Aug 31, 2019
Janaya Burke-Smith, popularly known as Janaya J, is a photographer & young created located in Boston, Massachusetts. Her presentation of brilliance and quality is reflected through everything that she creates, and it also reflects through the creatives she surrounds herself around with her incredible docu-series, “MEET THE CREATORS”. Her passion for lighting & angles was brewed at the innocent age of 14 and she has grown & developed into the creator that she is today with the love and support from friends, family, and inspiration from critically acclaimed names.
“I have been into photography since I was 14 years old.” Janaya begins to explain. “When I was in high school, we had something called 'project week' where students had a whole week to choose a specific activity to do instead of going to class. Because this was the year that Instagram had just become popular, I chose photography. I went into the project week with little to no knowledge about photography, but of course, I tried my best. My school provided me with a camera and Adobe Lightroom. Every time my friends saw the pictures that I took of them, they loved them which made me want to consider taking photography seriously.”
Receiving genuine love from close friends will push you to do anything imaginable. It is fueling to hear positive feedback from those who you are close with. Looking up to those who have acquired much notoriety and success in your passion is also another element of motivation.
“If it wasn't for [my friends], I wouldn't have even considered photography as my career. I am also truly inspired by photographers such as Chi Modu and Gunner Stahl because they capture the essence of rap culture. Rap culture played a big role in my photography career because when I first started taking pictures, my favorite thing to shoot was street photography. After a while, I started becoming more fascinated with editorial and commercial photography.”
Modu & Stahl are known for capturing timeless still moments of hip hop culture from two different generations. Their work is unlimited and so diverse in its uniqueness.
The creative process is so vital to a creative’s artistry and it is something you must pay close attention to and work to develop and increase. Ironically, Janaya knows how to pay very careful attention to detail.
“When it comes to creating something new, I always base my work off of feeling and emotion,” Janaya says. “My process always starts off with me writing down my feelings in a notebook and then coming up with a photoshoot concept based off of what I have written down. If I'm feeling sad, I may want to shoot my muse in an isolated location with a monochromatic outfit. If I'm feeling energetic, I may want to shoot candids with my muse during the day time when the sun is out. It really all depends on my mood.”
Janaya J was introduced to me by a close friend and amazing artist, Pote Baby. At first glance, I thought she was so dope with infectious charisma. She had such a down-to-earth vibe to her— a sweet girl with an edge. I got the chance to speak with her personally and she’s hilarious, supportive and understanding. We’ve discussed things like starting a podcast together, meeting up in person, even just random friendly conversations. Her support for my blog is so unmatched as she is always sharing my posts with her friends on both her platforms, her personal photography page and her awesome underground docu-series for creatives of all mediums, “MEET THE CREATORS”.
“MEET THE CREATORS is a web show that was created by myself in order to give all artists the opportunity to share and create art.” She explains. “Each season of the show includes four different artists that go head to head in fun and risky challenges.”
“[The movement was] inspired by hard-working artists all over the world. When creating this platform first came to mind, I knew that I wanted it to cater to the arts. There are so many different types of artists around the world that do not get enough recognition for the hard work that they put in. Because of this, I decided to make ‘MEET THE CREATORS’, a platform for all artists to gain exposure. I blended this idea together with my love for shooting documentaries, and it turned into a web show. I am super inspired by my favorite networks Vice, i-D, Complex, and Refinery29 which explains my shooting style for the show. ‘MEET THE CREATORS’ is very clean, cut, and raw which is why most people enjoy watching it.”
I highly recommend this incredible web series! It’s so professional with such a clean roll-out and effective delivery. You’ll meet so many young artists and creatives with different personalities, talents, and backgrounds. The first season is already out and completed, and you can watch it now via YouTube.
One of the two most important factors when it comes to creating new content with other artists is energy and communication. What is the connection you have with fellow associates? What is the energy like in your creative workspace? How do these factors better your productivity? All of these things are very crucial to consider while working.
“When I'm shooting a new muse, I like the energy in the studio to be very genuine. I like to get to know my muse by talking to them before, during, and after I shoot with them. I believe that this is very important because it makes things less awkward and more fun. When I actually talk to my muse, I always have a great time in the studio.”
Janaya J hopes to work with memorable faces such as Slick Woods, Amandla Stenberg, Jorja Smith, and the beautiful Rihanna, as well as other creative directors to further expand her ideas.
I have so much faith in this creative. Janaya has such a wonderful spirit and her creativity doesn’t know any limits or boundaries. Her professionalism is untouched and I know we are going to create amazing things together when the stars align.
“Everyone should expect lots of dope content in the future. I will never stop working hard. Ever.”
Follow this creative on Instagram, and don’t forget to follow her creative docu-series “MEET THE CREATORS” on Instagram & YouTube! You don’t want to miss anything! All links will be provided below.