Laiken Joy is a photographer who grew up between Nashville, Tennessee and Lake Charles, Louisiana. She’s garnered attention as the photographer for Kelly Green, the official DJ for Curren$y’s Jet Life imprint.
Known for sharp portraits and lifestyle snapshots documenting everything from lowriders to locals and performers, Laiken hosts her New Orleans debut solo exhibition at Axiom Fine Art Gallery (4613 Freret St.) on Friday, July 19. Dubbed “Southern Hospitality,” it features the people and culture of her native region.
Why did you first pick up a camera?
As a child, one of my favorite things to do was go through boxes of photos. I wanted to know everything about those people and moments, whether I knew them or not. I was five when I got my first camera. From that point on I was cashing out my allowance on disposable cameras and film, until I got my first digital camera at 15. I felt like everything I saw was important, and I wanted people to see it from my perspective.
How would you describe your photography?
Raw and real. I shoot with my eyes; the camera is just a tool for me and I don’t manipulate the photos much after I shoot.
How did you team up with Jet Life?
When I first moved to New Orleans, I was part of a showcase at Republic. Kelly Green came up to my booth, impressed with my work. She was looking for a photographer, so I reached out and we’ve been shooting ever since. I do a lot of personal work for Curren$y and all of Jet Life Apparel. I have learned a lot about myself and my business from being around them.
How has living in New Orleans inspired you?
Living here has been a dream for me and my eye. I am constantly inspired by the people and the neighborhoods—I want to photograph it all, in as many ways as I can, to tell a bigger story, and show the world that the true beauty is within the everyday life of real people and places, not a big million dollar set.
Why is it important to you to showcase the South?
I grew up in the South and, while I have traveled the world, I’m always drawn back. It’s the blue skies, green fields, fried catfish, country accents, old Cadillacs, and most importantly, that southern hospitality. It’s a sense of never-ending nostalgia for me, and truly a world of its own. We are not perfect down here and we have a lot of advancing to do when it comes to the way people think. This new generation is trying to change the narrative without changing the foundation, and I want to be part of shaping this growth.