MADEatREC is a series focused on highlighting cool sh*t our members are creating, planning or collaborating on. Think of these spotlights as an inside look into the life of a creative entrepreneur at REC. Our second feature spotlights member Joleaha Larke a photographer trailblazing the creative industry and making a statement for women entrepreneurs. Scroll to check out our conversation with JoLeaha and our Creative Director.
Can you introduce yourself — tell us more about who you are, where you’re from, and what you do creatively?
JoLeaha Larke, a Philly based artist specializing in instant film photography and conceptual portrait photography with a love for digital design. I was born and raised in Lebanon, PA but after high school I lived in Miami, DC, and now I’m here.
Can you walk us through a typical day in the life? (As a creative | photographer | visual artist | human)
On the days when I’m not managing a restaurant, I usually wake up around 7:30/8 and meditate or do yoga to clear my mind. If I have a shoot that day, I’ll pack my bag early to avoid rushing, and then head to the location to set things up. I like to do this alone to stay in my zone. But all my days are different and that’s how I like it.
Could you talk about how you go about ideating/your planning your process’. Do you go into shoots with mood boards & a set plan or does it just happen in the moment?
I love that. I try to be very intentional with my work just because I see so many creative images with no real depth. Lastnightsparty taught me to “make art, not content” and I’m very committed to that. I don’t have a mood board or a make up artist or stylist for the majority of my shoots because I’m there to capture the person in front of me, not who I wish they could be.
Could you touch on the renaissance we are going through in regards to women in the creative industry?
Women run this sh*t! Slowly but surely we’ve stepped into our power in this creative industry. I do what I can to create a safe and free environment for all models but specifically women. We face so many obstacles even by just trying to create! Between inappropriate male photographers and racist companies who don’t respect their models. I just always want my muse to feel like she has the space to be intimate and create real art.
Who are some other artists (in any medium) who you look up to or are inspired by?
Ahhh I have so many amazingly talented friends who inspire me daily! As far as photographers go my guy Brandon Almengo is one of my favorites, Bronques aka Lastnightsparty really got me into wanting the most raw version of people, Aaron Ricketts’ work inspires me to think outside of the norm, Mo (Phobymo) is a genius, Jake Wangner is my favorite film photographer, love the way he sees color, and Will Trostel is from the same city as me, definitely inspired me to really dive into my craft.
Do you have a day job or are you all in as a creative entrepreneur? Working as a creative is both taxing & freeing. How do you balance maintaining creative freedom while staying focused on your personal growth/career goals?
I was working full time as a General Manager at Tuna Bar, a local sushi spot, and recently took a step back to part time to give myself more time to create. Working a “9-5” can be exhausting on top of creating and trying to make a living off of photography but it gives me the freedom to shoot what I want, when I want and that is so important to me. As much as I want to create full time, being able to afford a decent camera, lots of film, and travel as needed without having to deal with hellish clients is something I can rock with a little bit longer.
In an ideal world where do you see your career in 5 years?
I see myself in a big ass loft filled with my publications & art by my peers and I. At this point I’ll have a successful multifunctional studio and a network of creatives to utilize it. I want to be the name in people’s mouth when they’re asked who inspires them. I also realize that time flies and plans are a fool’s errand, but I know that I’ll be enjoying the fruit of my labor.
2020 was far from what we anticipated the first year in our new space to look like. We opened, we closed, we evolved our product, we furloughed our team, and had a chance to open yet again.
MADEatREC is a series focused on highlighting cool sh*t our members are creating, planning or collaborating on. Think of these spotlights as an inside look into the life of a creative entrepreneur at REC.