Jai Hall from Phoenix

Jai Hall from Phoenix

Who are you? 

Jai Hall. 27. Phoenix, Arizona. Artist. 

Was Phoenix where you were born or your current residence? 

I was born in Texas: a small town called Lubbock. I'm currently living in Phoenix. 

How has your environment, growing up and/or now, had an impact on you and your work? 

Coming from middle-class suburbia in Arizona where everything is this bland tan stucco color you appreciate nuances and Oprah said, "love is in the details.” That's definitely carried over into my work. I really focus on the small things in an image -- whether it be a hole in

someone's shirt, or how their hat may be sitting atop their head a bit crooked, or a chip in their tooth. I really try to capture the uniqueness in everything.

When and how did you first get started in photography? 

I was gifted a camera for my 21st birthday. 

When did you join Instagram and how has it affected you / your work? 

I've been on IG for years. It satisfies the urge to constantly create and share. I'm pro iPhonephotography, for sure. It's just like any other has its unique outcome. And

figuring out how to use the phone to its full potential is a fun challenge. It's a nice artistic release to snap a photo, lay a filter on it and share it in a casual way with people. 

What camera(s) do you shoot with and how does it (or each) influence your process? 

I use a Canon EOS A2, Yashica t4 and Contax G2 w/ Ektar100 for nearly all of my personal work and as much of my commission work as possible, plus a Canon 5d when I shoot digital. 

I love the aesthetic of film. I find shooting film more rewarding. It's more methodical for me...I know I have this limited number of shots and each one has to count. It helps when shooting street portraits to have this "unique" non-threatening camera. Their guard falls and they are more inquisitive and open.

Do you have a favorite out of all those cameras? What do you like about each of them? 

My favorite camera to shoot with is my Yashica (medium format). It's a great conversation starter and renders beautiful images. The tones from 120 film are amazing. I'm never disappointed with the outcome. 

Do you have any favorite images that you’ve taken? 

This may be totally biased, but photos of my 2-year-old nephew. :) I also have an image of lovers embracing that I adore. 

What usually catches your eye in general for a shot? What is your favorite subject matter to shoot? 

Emotions, characters and irony. I love shooting portraits of strangers. 

Are there particular things about strangers that will usually attract you to shoot them? 

It's very natural and organic as cliché as that's just the energy that they give off. If it feels right, I'll usually try to snap a photo. It's all about the vibes.

Any specific interesting stories that have come from engaging with strangers and asking questions? 

Yeah, I was in Fort Greene a few years back and approached this guy for his portrait who was sitting at this café where I happened to be going to for brunch. We ended up in a thirty-minute to hour-long conversation about how he'd just gotten back from being imprisoned for five years because he was "protecting" his wife from the guy she was having an affair with. Apparently she wouldn't leave him to be with this other guy. This guy ended up confronting both of them in their home and he shot him in self-defense. it was all very wild and a bit outlandish but that's what made it great. 

Where do you find inspiration? 

It's cliche, but life! Energy, shared moments, new places… exploring is crucial. 

Who are your favorite photographers? 

Danny Clinch, Khalik Allah, Matt Eich, Boogie, King Texas, Elizabeth Weinberg, Lamar Langston, Zach Wolfe. 

How would you describe your style? 

Emotive, natural and raw. 

How has your approach to shooting people changed as you’ve become more experienced? 

I use to walk the street and shoot from afar. A lot of candids and photos of backs. (laughs) Now I'm more engaging. I'll usually introduce myself and ask a few questions... establish some sort of connection and snap the photo mid-conversation. 

Interview by Jack Sommer

Kevin De Los Santos