Inspired by the beauty of everyday life, photographer Jasmine Davis captures the world in intimate, candid moments.
Jasmine Davis was in her early 20s when she found her way into photography. Originally, she had picked up a camera to document her solo travels. It wasn’t long, however, before she turned her lens from landscapes to people.
During her ventures around the globe, Davis would talk to people, get to know them, and, using her camera, capture their story. To Davis, the process of creating that shared connection was addicting.
She’s now a full-time photographer who works with Shutterstock’s Create Fund, which supports historically excluded artists, helps fill content gaps, and creates a more inclusive library of contributor content.
As a contributor, Davis uses her talents to share intimate, candid moments of Black family life—such as a father and son on a camping trip, or an older couple enjoying a vacation.
Her images capture the natural beauty of everyday life and are always vulnerable and honest.
Shutterstock: When did you first get into photography?
Jasmine Davis: I was kind of a late bloomer. I honestly didn’t start photography until my 20s, when I was out of college and traveling solo. The camera was a gateway to talking to people and not feeling awkward about it.
I’m curious by nature, so I asked tons of questions to learn about other people and how they lived their lives. Photography made it easy for me to get that kind of “insider knowledge,” because sometimes people put their guard down.
And, I think that’s really what drew me to photography—that you can tell stories without having to talk. I’ve been hooked ever since.
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SSTK: During your solo travels, did you focus on landscapes, the people you met, or both?
Davis: When I first started, it was a lot easier to take photos of pretty things and not people. It’s always scary when you’re taking photos of people, because they can tell you “No.”
So, initially, I was intrigued by landscapes and beautiful buildings. But I love a good challenge. So, I challenged myself to start conversations with people, get the dialogue going, and then ask to take their photo. And that became really addicting!
I loved the idea of creating a connection and giving people a platform to talk about themselves. I got to know their story and then, using my camera, tell it in the best light.
SSTK: Would you say you rely on conversation to build trust between yourself and your subjects?
Davis: Absolutely. I think it’s boring to just . . . take photos and not know the story behind them. I feel like the best way to get to know someone is to talk to them.
Obviously, any photo I take is my perspective of someone else. But, to the best of my ability, I want people to feel like I am telling their story correctly.
SSTK: How has The Create Fund helped you?
Davis: It really helped validate what I was doing. I think every person, whether they’re an artist or not, has doubts like, “Am I good at this?” “Should this just be a hobby?” There are those moments when you kind of question yourself.
When I found out I got the grant, it was inspiring. More than anything, it validated what I was doing and told me that, “Yeah, I can do this.”
SSTK: Your collections focus on Black family life. How did you identify the need for those photos?
Davis: I noticed the gap immediately, and the inspiration for the photos come from my own life. I wanted to highlight Black families doing things that every family, regardless of color, does—go on vacations, take camping trips, spend time outdoors.
Those are things I did a lot in my life but had never really seen portrayed in the same way I experienced it.
My photos didn’t have to depict some extravagant, over-the-top thing. Just, you know, a weekend road trip between a father and son. A weekend vacation between a husband and wife. Those small, little “life things.”
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SSTK: Where do you find inspiration?
Davis: That’s a great question. Sometimes, I’ll get inspired just thinking about life. I’ll be sitting around, looking at Pinterest or watching something on Netflix and I’ll just get an idea in my head.
The people who inspire me the most are other artists who are doing interesting things on the fringe.
SSTK: What’s next for you? What are you excited about?
Davis: I’m from Los Angeles, which is a big surfing city. The last time I went back, I was able to work with some Black surfers, which I was really excited about. I tried to set up a photo shoot while I was there, but the weather—of all things, in California!—didn’t work out.
So, I’m very much looking forward to going back and doing a series of Black surfers. Surfing has been in and around the Black community for a long time, but it’s kind of having a renaissance. It’s becoming more mainstream, and I’m excited to get some photos of that.
SSTK: Any advice for aspiring photographers or artists?
Davis: There’s no harm in going for something. In trying for something. It’s never too late to try for what you want. Don’t ever doubt your passions—they’re there for a reason, and we all have things within us that are meant to be shared.
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