"PROFILES" - Jett Lara #TSProfiles

PROFILES : Get a glimpse into the minds of artists on the block. On These Street's "Profiles" artists from all aspects of life are sharing a little more than just their talent. In this series you can get to know more about who the artist is. You will learn how they got started on practicing their art, and understand what fuels them to create.

____
Editor - Joshua Zamudio / Editor - Jenae Lien / Photographed by Jett Lara
Referred by Kemal Cilengir
____

JETT LARA

____
_
Hello, my name is Jett Lara and I was born in the city of Manila, Philippines. I was raised in the small town of Victorville, California, and I now reside in South Los Angeles. 
_
 
_
After Manila, I spent the later half of my childhood in the small town of Victorville. My time there was mostly uneventful. However, there’s one memorable thing that transpired in those younger years that set the path to the artist that I am today. Back in the 5th grade, I had a teacher named Ms. Booye, who gave me my first taste in art. I had no clue what art really was back then, but in her class she taught us how to draw. All I remember was that I just really loved to draw. I was so good at it that she mostly presented my drawings first in class and I relished how great that felt. It was nice to have an audience, which were mostly my classmates. It was a small school. After elementary school, I transferred to a middle school with a larger population. Although I've stopped drawing since then, my life as a small-time artist in Ms Booye’s class would not go in vain; I knew I always wanted to be one.
_
 
 
_
It was 2011 when I started taking photographs. I started with my iPhone but later got my first camera— an Olympus e500. I would take photos of landscapes and nature, but that all changed one day in 2013. My girlfriend and I at the time were wandering around La Brea here in Los Angeles and we stumbled upon an art gallery called Merry Karnowsky Gallery, now known as KP Projects. They held the 1st LA exhibition of the late Vivian Maier. I left the gallery a changed man. I wanted to photograph people. 
_
 
_
Recently I’ve rekindled my fascination with portrait photography. One day while I was making photographs, I was on 5th and Broadway when I ran into a man with a luchador mask. Tragically, downtown is known to have a heavy population of unhoused people. It’s easy to run into people who are mentally unstable or high on drugs. Intuitively, I know which people are okay to approach for a photograph, but this man had his face hidden under his mask so I just went for it. I called for his attention and asked him for a photograph. He replies by saying: “Okay, deal. But after we’re going to have to fight." He extends his hand to shake mine. I was in disbelief this was happening because he kept getting closer to the point where he was shoving his open hand to my chest. I remember being so mad but at the same time trying to defuse the situation by walking away, which is my number one rule— always defuse the situation when things get hot. Fortunately he laughed and said he was just kidding. I was so upset but kept my cool and posed him for a photo. The following night I looked at his portrait. All I saw was a man who looked normal to me. I didn’t see an unstable person walking around with a bright blue mask getting up close to my face for a fight and causing me to get very upset. It’s true that a photograph can be dishonest just like Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother." But as long as the message is conveyed, a photograph is testament of truth. That’s what I find interesting about my subjects; It’s the message they project in my photographs, consciously or not. 
_
 
_
I think the biggest struggle for me as an artist is to fully articulate my motif into words. I’d rather let the photographs present the ideas and subsequently have the viewer connect the dots. 
 
I was once a sushi chef working in a sushi bar. I had this thing where I would watch the customers in our restaurant. For obvious reasons, I didn’t stare but would rather glance here and there and gather a full observation in my mind. I just love to observe. I love to analyze behavior and come up with conclusions made up of careful assumptions of who that person may be like outside the doors. I fabricated identities of these people based on their behavior. I still do the same today, but I let the camera render these observations into images. 
_
 
_
There are many reasons why it is important to photograph our time. A photograph is a fraction of time that will never be replicated again.
_
 

 

2 comments

Justin

Love it

Matt Lawrence

Great work, Jett. Great piece TSM team!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published