We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Jafet Soto. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Jafet below.
Jafet, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Can you open up about a risk you’ve taken – what it was like taking that risk, why you took the risk and how it turned out?
Taking a risk can be intimidating. I used to dread coming into work each day knowing I was going to make minimum wage in exchange for the same routine each day. Just waking up, I was already tired of working at the job I was currently at. However, I couldn’t just quit and walk away, because the pay was good and it was supporting me financially. I’m sure this is something most of us can relate to. One afternoon I got a call on my lunch break, and who knew that one call from a strange number, that I almost declined,”, was about to change my perspective of life completely. Keep in mind I already had a side photography business on the weekends. This one specific call really, I mean really, changed my direction in life.
It changed it so much, that once I got done eating my lunch I went straight to my boss and told him ” I quit” and walked away.
The confusion on his face and the shock that I felt just rushed through my whole body. I walked away and never looked back, with my chest pumping so hard, ankles shaking, and my mind racing. All I could think was “what did I just do?!” But for some odd reason I felt super happy, excited, and at peace with it.
I got home, called my parents and told them the news. Of course any nice parents would be shocked and mad, haha, but somehow I still felt happy and was laughing about it.
One week passed and I started to feel the pressure. The company that I supposedly got the phone call for was basically another job, but this time a contract job, so I had to learn how to create a legit smart contract and build my side photography business into a real working contract business. I had no idea where to begin. I asked my buddies and we got the ball rolling. Now I’m the head photographer of this company as a contractor.
After a few months passed by, the freedom I had in my schedule felt weird. I decided to start picking up more photography gigs in my free time. And that’s when I landed my first HUGE contract with BBVA and ended up photographing the Super Bowl in my own city and getting paid for it. That’s when I knew if I wouldn’t have quit, legit pursued what I enjoy, and pushed hard, I wouldn’t have had any of these opportunities. I would still be stuck in a 9-5 job that I just hated going to.
I’m forever grateful for that phone call. It was just the push I needed to just say ‘screw it. I’m going all in.’
Jafet, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Houston, Texas is the city I was born and raised in. I was always curious why I was born in Houston and not any other city. Although, that could just be me over-analyzing. Since I was a kid, visual arts and movies have been my inspiration. They inspired me to find something new in life and that’s where everything started to unfold. My parents put me in music classes when I was a kid. Because of that, I started to dabble in drums and the xylophone. I’m forever grateful for that, because it taught me how to use music and sound to my advantage.
I also started getting myself into the hip hop, breakdancing, scene. That opened up a whole new world for me that inspired me in new ways as a creative. It was a truly amazing experience. Being able to feel my body lifting from the ground, spinning on my head, doing flips, and simply letting my body feel completely free, dancing was an amazing experience for me. Breakdancing made me feel like I was flying and I just didn’t want to stop.
After falling in love with dancing, my imagination started going crazy. That’s when I started filming myself with my iPod, creating short dance videos, and taking breakdancing photos. I didn’t know that the spark I found in dancing was going to lead to a career in the future.
I spent years dancing as a job. I booked a lot of performances, and competed at many different events. However, as time went on, it took a toll on my body, and I ended up dislocating my kneecap. This injury led to the end of my dance career.
When I lost dancing I fell into depression, and I just didn’t know what to do anymore. I was so emotionally devastated that it felt like my whole world was completely shattered into pieces. The only thing I knew and loved was gone. I found something that truly made me feel alive, so without it I felt like my world was upside down. Dancing was my thing I could run to, my safe place to get myself back together. Dance gave me peace and clarity in my life and helped me get back on track. You could say it was rehab for me. The music and the freedom to express your emotions on the dance floor was one of the greatest feelings ever.
So, now the only thing I had left was music, and I kid you not, music was the reason I was able to get my hands on a camera. One of my homies that DJ’s hit me up to come to his session, and I took him up on the offer. I mean, why not? I love being in an environment where music is playing, so I went over to his house. He was busy making music, and I was just jamming. I looked to the left and I noticed a camera on his book shelf. I asked him “Hey, is that your camera?” He said, “Yeah! I don’t really use it. I bought it to record my events, but I have my GoPro, so I don’t need it anymore. Do you want it?” I asked if he was forreal. He told me he was. He said it was brand new and he would sell it to me cheap. I said, “Okay!” Even though I didn’t have that much money at the moment, he let me make payments. Soon enough, I had officially bought my first camera! I was actually happy to receive it and it didn’t even occur to me that this was the start of something new, a similar spark to dancing for me. I hadn’t known that feeling for a while.
I found out about an event taking place that weekend from someone I was following on Instagram. There was going to be a Houston Urban Street Photowalk, where a bunch of photographers were going to gather to create content together. I decided to go and that’s when my whole world changed. I was inspired once again, and I didn’t even realize I started to feel the same way I once felt towards dancing.
When I would go photograph, I began putting my headphones on, playing music, and walking the city of Houston, taking photos of everything that caught my eye while letting the music take over my body once again. It felt so surreal, because once I pressed play and the sound was hitting my eardrums my whole imagination would start to run wild. It took me to a place where I was in a movie or music video in my head. It gave me creative energy and emotion. When I stared at something and the music was inspiring me, I knew that was going to be a sick photo! It can be a pretty weird way of seeing things, but it works for me. Everyone has their own artistic process.
Sooner or later I started coming across other urban street photographers who shared the same passion, and we started creating content together, teaching each other the ins and outs of photography. It was there when I realized this was going to be fun and maybe even help me get out of the funk (depression) I was going through. Slowly, but surely, it did. I started creating photos and even short videos with the help of the music education I received prior in my life. I was able to create memories with my camera and it became like second nature to me.
Here we are today, being sponsored by Google Pixel, other major companies, so this is an inspiring milestone for me. I hope you enjoy these photos of Houston’s underground, hidden gems, as I show you the different angles of the city, the places that you wouldn’t even have thought were here. Art Saves Lives – INFPHY
Can you share your view on NFTs? (Note: this is for education/entertainment purposes only, readers should not construe this as advice)
I love it! Each week Is just getting better and better for Photographers like myself. It’s really changing the game. It’s a whole new world that Everyone who is interested Is learning as we go. I know in a few years It gonna get more established and I’m super excited for it. I have a Photography NFT Collection Up. I am not forgotten Its a collection that deals with depression and loneliness. Some of my best work is on that collection up for sale. 3 beautiful pieces have gone to a better home and they’re loving their NFT’s Purchases. If you’re more interested Here the link : https://opensea.io/collection/iamnotforgotten
Looking back, are there any resources you wish you knew about earlier in your creative journey?
There is a company called MPB that helps emerging artists to purchase affordable second hand cameras. Had that company been on my radar when I started, I would have taken the chance to acquire equipment at these affordable prices and upgrade later on in the future.
- Website: www.influencephotography.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/infphy_/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/infphy_
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtlIytzVRcjWw2pInMvIhyQ
- Other: https://opensea.io/collection/iamnotforgotten