On Relationships and Creative Composition: Jinni J, Photographer and Filmmaker

photo by Montsho Jarreau Thoth

photo by Montsho Jarreau Thoth

Jinni J is an Austin-based photographer with an eye for the beautiful. Armed with a camera, she is always ready to dissect what it means to be feminine, to perform, to be of a certain gender. Her recent foray into filmmaking, as co-director for the music video of Monte's "Naive", has also been a huge success, as it premiered on Creators. You can also catch it at BabesFest!

Read more to learn about the woman behind the lens.

What do you look for in a shot? On the reverse, are you always looking through a lens, and does that ever get tiring? 

Usually I'm looking to strike a balance between elegance and asymmetry. I am often scheduling shoots but as long as I am mindful of when my creativity and energy needs to recharge it all works out, at times though I’ll overbook myself I think I secretly enjoy burning my wick at both ends. I never really get tired of it though, I get more tired of not creating.  

How do you find creativity in photography? 

I am a person that kinda has too many feels. Sometimes I'm a little overwhelmed with how much beauty I see. I’m constantly inspired, it’s just a little more difficult for me to zero in on something. 

How do you build good relationships with your models? Also, if you could photograph anyone in the world, living or dead, who would it be?

Many of my “models” are more like my “muses”, many of them are my friends so there is already comfort and intimacy in that. Lately people have been reaching out to me via Instagram and its such a nice way to instantly see what a person is into, that when we finally meet in person it always feels like we’ve hung out before. Instafriendship!  :) 

Who would I photograph?  I’ve been asked this a ton and my answer always changes based on what I'm really inspired by in the moment. Right now I am looking back at my family and I would love to have been able to photograph my Lebanese grandmother every 10 years of her life. She had seven children, made all of her clothes, and was the quintessential hostess with the mostest. She lived to be 92. Other than that Grace Jones would be lovely to shoot.  

I just watched the video you directed for Monte’s Naive. It was incredible! Do you find yourself shifting in the direction of filmmaking?

Thank you so much!  It’s funny, for a long time video was just something I assumed I wasn’t capable of doing or even playing a part in. Then I released myself from that doubt and now lately I've just been imagining all things in motion. The idea of having to capture movement was overwhelming and intimidating, I was comfortable in the static frame and now I am feeling limited with stillness. More video projects are currently in the works! 

What’s the funniest moment you’ve experienced during a photoshoot?

Oh goodness! I have a notoriously awful memory, each shoot is always a giddy time. But I’d say a silly thing that happened when I was shooting for Raw Paw’s Alien Zine, I was on a construction site with my friend and the model, Jamaica, using my car headlights for the shoot and once we wrapped the shoot and tried driving out of the lot we started to realize my an industrial nail punctured my tire. So it was like 4am in a neighborhood that didn’t really exist yet on the map and had to call tripleA with my friend cover in gold paint and glitter and blue lipstick. It was pretty ridiculous at the time but afterwards we had a good laugh about it. Then that image ended up getting posted all over town and on billboards through Austin Art Boards. WORTH IT! 

You can find out more about Jinni J's work on her instagram or her website.

Jane Claire Hervey