Now that we’ve hit mid-July, the city of New Orleans keeps heatin’ up. Not only the temperature, but also the artists and creatives from within. Specifically, New Orleans Photographer Laiken Joy, who is preparing to showcase some of her finest photos at her upcoming photo exhibit Southern Hospitality. As one of my favorite photographers in New Orleans, I was eager to learn more about the concepts to expect at the show. Check out my exclusive interview with Laiken below:
NG: Tell me a bit about you, Laiken Joy.
LAIKEN: My name is Laiken Joy. I’m 26, and a Photographer in New Orleans. I was born in Lake Charles, LA, then moved to Nashville, TN, then California. While in California, I got into a wreck and had to move back to Lake Charles.
I had planned on moving to Austin, TX. I had my new spot paid for, and my decorative mind was in motion. Before jetting to Austin, I came to New Orleans for the Saints and Panthers playoff game. But then, on that Sunday, me and my girl went to Felipes, had a bunch of margaritas, decided to move to New Orleans, and signed a lease, within hours. So, since 2018, I have been living in New Orleans.
NG: How and when did you first get into photography?
LAIKEN: I’ve just always taken photos my whole life. I think it’s because growing up, I found so much joy in going through old photos with my mom. They would be of my grandma, and I loved that.
Then I started asking my mom to buy me disposable cameras. Finally, at 15, I got my first “detachable lens” camera, a Canon Rebel x, and was so hyped. Now I shoot with a Canon 5d Mark 3.
NG: Explain how you came to figure out your ‘style’ of photography.
LAIKEN: I really love a clean, raw image. Whatever the moment in time is, I want it to look like that in my photos. I love a clean and sharp image.
Its like all day long, my eyes are the camera. I just see constant composition with my eyes. I want my photo to look like what it really looks like.Laiken Joy
I just try to stay true to showing my real life visions through my photos. And from the beginning, that’s always how I’ve thought about photography. So, I like that too. I love a full frame, 35mm lens, because it gives you everything that you see. It tells a story to me.
NG: Tell me about the concept of your upcoming photography exhibit “Southern Hospitality”.
LAIKEN: The concept’s a little deeper. It’s why I love the south. I could easily boom in Los Angeles, but the south’s more rewarding, more genuine. Southern Hospitality to me is saying:
I’m doing this here, and everything around me tells me this is where I’m supposed to be. I love the south. I’m here because someone needs to highlight the south.Laiken Joy
Majority of people think the south is full of dummies. Like we’re just incapable. So, when they come to visit they automatically bring their own photographers and videographers from LA and NY with them. And that leaves no hope for us. They don’t have faith in us.
All circumstances outside of the south make me not want to leave my block. The south is my block. Whether it’s Nashville, New Orleans, Atlanta. I love Outkast. And I love georgia peaches, bitches so fine in the ATL, for real.Laiken Joy
Changing lanes for a minute, Laiken proceeds to ask me “what Southern Hospitality” means to me, and it’s to no surprise that we have the same insight into our culture and surroundings. “When I think of Southern Hospitality in general, I think of New Orleans, grandma’s house, the hood, coffee, pitbulls, and shit like that” I responded.
We proceeded to dig deeper into our conversation about culture, as it fits into southern hospitality. Specifically, as white girls immersed and active in the city’s current creative culture. “Sometimes I don’t want to be that white bitch with the camera”, said Laiken. But that’s why at the end of the day, to be part of the culture, is to engage from the heart into the culture, not just when it’s convenient. Real will always recognize real, and it’s how you get respect amongst your peers and colleagues. It comes down to being respectful to one’s culture, not just New Orleans, and not just as a photographer, but as people.
NG: In terms of the photographs you chose for the show, is there a specific concept/vibe you went with?
I tell people the Southern Hospitality Exhibit will be like a drive around my block.Laiken joy
It’s about the characteristics in my photos that I love. Like, I love cars, so you’re going to see a lot of cars. It’s also about the people that make me comfortable in my life that I regularly see. So I’m going to feature those people that make me happy, and on a regular basis. Pretty much, showing my appreciation to them.
The show’s going to be…unexpected, like an experience.” I am going to have some prints for sale, but not too many. My focus for the show is really just to be able to show my appreciation to the city with my photos. I can’t tell you how much overwhelming support I’ve gotten since I moved here and began engaging with people that see things the same way I do (that we all do, talking to me).
Last winter, there was this rooftop party that I went to at the Royal Sonesta that was hosted by M.A.Q. It was really some of the most genuine shit that I’ve ever been to down here. That party changed a lot for me. I kept meeting new people there, but it was people that already knew of me, and my work. And I just felt honored. Because I have never been that kind of person. I have always been social, but never conceited.
NG: What do you love most about photography? In general, and specifically New Orleans photography?
LAIKEN: What I love the most about photography is being able to show people what I see. It’s my way of getting to express how I see the world, through Laiken’s vision. In New Orleans, and the south, I really find people here to be less commercial, and more imperfect. And having my eyesight on that, just makes me want to show everyone that imperfect beauty that I was able to capture.
You probably aren’t seeing this, so I am going to capture it and show you. It’s so important to share your vision…because it’s f*ckin beautiful.”Laiken Joy
I also love the architecture of New Orleans. I love doors! New Orleans always reminds me of so many different places, depending on where you are. Like, I turn the block and feel like I’m in Cuba. Wrapping back to my love of the city’s imperfections, I also feel like I love enhancing imperfections in my photos. But it’s in a low key way…whether it’s just a small hint of red on her lips, or that pop of green in the tree you wouldn’t even notice. Just some shit that shouldn’t be there, an imperfection.
NG: July 19, 2019 – Axiom Art Gallery – “Southern Hospitality” by Laiken Joy – Any details you want to include?
LAIKEN: The opening exhibit to Southern Hospitality will take place on Friday, July 19, 2019 from 6-9 pm at Axiom Art Gallery (4613 Freret Street). The exhibit will be up until that Sunday, July 21.
There will be some drinks, and it’s just going to be a good time. People keep asking me what the dress code of the photo show will be, and I just keep telling them to wear clothes… but I do keep asking myself, ‘am I wearing Cortez’s or am I wearing Heels?’ (ha, which is very Laiken)
Lastly, I want to give a big shout out to Ceaux Young at Axiom Art Gallery for allowing me to create and show my visions at his gallery. It is such an honor, and I can’t wait.