“Clean. Dark. Alive.”
This is how Jacquie Ray, 25, of Los Angeles, Calif., defines her photography.
Ray is sitting legs crossed on the floor of a modest studio space on the third level of a tired city complex. Diseased train tracks and tagged walls lie just beyond the building like a dry moat defending semi-precious secrets of a forgotten fortress. “No Smoking” sings line the inside hallways, but a blanket of white smoke welcomes visitors at Ray’s door like a thick, asphyxiating hug. Her round-framed black glasses hang off her nose as she scans through images from a photo shoot in process.
In here, she works as one-half of High Creatives.
“High Creatives is about the elevation of a person’s creative mind or a person’s mind, period. It’s me, my growth,” says Ray.
The brainchild of Ray and her boyfriend, JC Ghouls, High Creatives is a ten-month-old, LA-based photography collective devoted to capturing the best, and often unheard, live bands of the downtown scene.
“I love being around music, musicians, and other artists. Due to my lack of social skills, shooting them is the way I talk to them. Being an introvert, photography is the way I communicate and express myself. This is more obvious when I do my creative shoots. Those are all very personal,” says Ray.
Ray tucks strands of her dyed silver hair under a black sun hat as she adjusts a white curtain backdrop. She moves around pieces of a drum kit before snapping another few rounds of photographs. In a black bag on the floor, the rest of her humble collection of cameras is waiting to be awakened from digital hibernation.
“When I first started High Creatives and started shooting bands daily, I was using my Canon 50D. After doing it for a few months, my boyfriend surprised me and bought me a Canon 70D which is what I use now. My favorite film to use recently has been the Kodak Ektar 100, “ says Ray.
The sun is crawling back into the belly of the horizon, but this does not mean Ray will rest anytime soon. She is preparing for another night out in the city. This is not only her living; it is her calling.
“When I first started shooting bands, I gave myself an assignment to shoot a band every day, Monday to Sunday. Back then I did have more of a routine. I liked to have my week planned ahead of time. I don’t do that now. Now, I go with the flow,” says Ray.
Ray’s repertoire of band photography covers an entire spectrum of music, from metal to punk to pop rock. Basements to bars to big venues, Ray is a photographer wherever, whenever.
“The first band I ever shot was Ars Poetria in 2005 at The Roxy. They were a local mid-city band made up of my friends. I remember spending a week in the darkroom, getting those photos done,” says Ray.
Last month, she photographed punk princess Kim House of Kim and The Created at a Lollipop Records release show. A few months before that, she was in the eye of a mosh pit, shooting Ty Segal’s newest psychedelic side-project FUZZ.
Ray is putting the finishing touches on an all-black outfit before closing up her studio for the night. Her camera hangs on a strap around her neck like it’s an extra appendage on her body. No one knows where she’ll end up tonight, not even she.
“I do not have a favorite photograph that I’ve taken. I shoot moments, moments that happened and I do not have a favorite moment. I like them all.”