Meet the newest member of The Splendor Circle, Jaci Bujanda (@photosbyjaci). We recently teamed up, and had a lovely conversation about everything from activism, New York and portraits.
Jenna: It's so nice to have someone as talented as you on the blog Jaci, but for people who don't know you, tell me a little bit about yourself.
Jaci: Thank you for having me on your blog, Jenna! I am a 16 year old photographer from New York City. I've been interested in photography ever since I was 8 years old, taking photos with my small point and shoot camera, but I only really started getting serious about it in the past year. I love taking portraits of my girlfriends and of beautiful landscapes that feel magical to me.
JE: New York, the place where so many of our hearts lay
JE: How do you think living in New York has influences your art?
JB: Living in New York gave me the opportunity to attend a specialized arts high school where I take more than two hours of art classes every day. Whether it's a painting, a ceramics or a printmaking class, consistently being involved in the creative process definitely helps to inspire me in my photography. The great diversity of people in New York and the progressiveness of the city is also great inspiration to me, and it reminds me of the importance in representing many types of people in my work.
JE: On the topic of representation, scrolling through your Instagram, it is fairly easy to see that you attend quite a good amount of protests, marches & rallies- tell me about that.
JB: Aside from photography, activism is one of my greatest passions in life. Being a teenager it's easy to feel that you're helpless in changing the world, but being able to capture the moments when people gather for a cause, whether it's at the Women's March or a No DAPL rally, is a valuable resource that can raise awareness on the issue and document the power of people getting together to fight for equality.
JE: Do you think that at those rallies, an in times where activism is the only way out, there's a certain rawness that comes out that's not usually in the atmosphere? And if you do, what about it do you think drives you to love capturing it so much?
JB: I definitely think there's rawness in rallies, because these people are not here for any reason other than fighting for a cause they care deeply about. There is also a sense of connection between the people at these rallies, and even though I am often in a crowd of strangers I feel as though I've known these people my whole life, and I feel like we share a sense of trust and support in standing up for what we believe in. Capturing the anger but also the hope that people feel at these events is one of the reasons why I love photographing rallies.
JE: Amazing. Most of your photos are portraits- do you feel you gravitate towards capturing people? Why?
JB: I'm not really sure why I like to take portraits, but I've always just gravitated towards them.I like capturing people when they are happy and confident in themselves, and I hope that people who look at my photographs get this same feeling of joy and freedom.
JE: What's the first memory you have of taking a photo of someone?
JB: When I was in fourth grade my class went on a camping trip in the Poconos Mountains, and my friends and I were all really excited that our parents had allowed us to bring our small cameras. I remember excitedly taking photos of my friends Anna and Sofia when we were hiking through the woods. I think I took too many photos on that trip, including ones of frog eggs that we found, mushrooms on logs, the cabin we were staying in and the food I ate for dinner.
JE: Sounds so sweet! I think we should all look back on what we were most interested in & excited about when we were kids to see what we really love. Now, do you spend all your time in the city?
JB: I spend my summers with my mom's family in Spain, where I stay at my grandparents house in a small village that lays in between mountains. Although I love New York, getting away from the intensity of the city and spending some time slowing down in the countryside feels so good to me. In the winter I visit my dad's family in the suburbs of Texas, I feel like in some way I belong to all these places.
JE: I know how you feel. Almost like there's different parts of home in each place, eh?
JE: Do you feel like your ethnicity influences your art, and the things you are passionate about as well? Speaking of ethnicity, what is your heritage?
JB: As I mentioned my mother is Spanish, so she is white, and my dad is Mexican with both Spanish and Native American ancestry. For most of my life these three parts of me- Mexican, Spanish and New Yorker- did not coexist well within my identity, and I felt like I had to be one of them more than the others. Recently, for the first time in my life, I've felt equal love and pride for all these parts of my heritage. I feel so much more at peace with myself. Many of my friends were also biracial, and we frequently discuss the comments and assumptions that people make about our ethnicities- which are often rude and unnecessary. Currently the theme of my photography is more "sisterhood", but I am working on incorporating the theme of being biracial in the near future.
JE: I feel like voices like your =s need to be heard, especially in times like today. Not just through things like complaints, but also through inspiration such as photography, and other arts.
JE: Do you think photography is something you want to pursue more deeply in the future, or is it soomething you see as more of a hobby?
JB: I'm not sure if I will pursue photography as an official career, but I know that I will keep on doing it throughout my whole life because it just makes me feel so good! I hope to be able to incorporate my other passions like environmentalism, social justice and healthy eating with my love for photography.
JE: Awesome. And lastly, what do you think about you sparkles the brightest? And what do you hope your work will help shine a light on, above all else?
JB: I like to think about what sparkles the brightest about myself is my love for our earth! It's such a beautiful place and I'm so grateful to live in it. I hope that my photography shines light on the power of activism, the magic in sisterhood and the power of the feminine.
Jaci was so nice to talk to, and you will definitely be seeing a lot of her work all over the world in the near future. Follow her on Instagram, @photosbyjaci. Also, I came up with a name for all the angels I interview- The Splendor Circle! Thoughts? XO
With all my love,