Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?
My name is Jacob Webster, 23 year old freelance photographer/creative director based in Los Angeles, CA. I pride myself in being a freelance photographer and creative director because I have full control over my career. I do some of the following: travel for photography jobs with major artists, produce my own projects from sourcing the location, choosing glam, creating creative deck/shotlist/treatment, hiring crew members, and more. I’d like to inspire millennial creatives to find their voice through image and content creation. The way I was able to create my own lane for myself and gain respect & trust in my field is the same way I’d like other creatives my age to do the same. I want people to know that I am a spiritually grounded person. I want to share this because going into the entertainment industry can be super overwhelming for people and a lot of people can’t handle it. When you’re spiritually grounded, you know you’re protected, you’re confident in your craft and your abilities, and you know nothing anybody says or does can make you do anything you don’t want to do.
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
Everyone that meets me always says; “I’m so different from everyone in the industry.” I think people say that for a variety of reasons. My eagerness to learn, my ability to adapt, and my self-awareness. I’d say my eagerness to learn stands out the most because I’m always talking about how I’m a student to the game and am always trying to find ways to learn more or improve my craft. The only way to move up in the ladder is to continue growing and to do that, you have to put your pride aside and ask people to help. There have been a lot of instances where I have asked photographers for help or asked to work under them to learn but they weren’t open to it because I had a bigger platform than them. That made me want to go even harder because I realized sometimes you only have yourself and you can’t rely on others for help, you have to go learn on your own any way that you can. I would say my ability to adapt makes me different as well because I’m always trained to go. In this industry, curveballs are always being thrown at you and you either will adapt or die (not literally). This can look like adapting to new environments, new people, situations, etc. Finally, I would say my self-awareness makes me unique from everyone else because I always know where I can improve. I’m always aware of how my delivery might come off, how a project could’ve been executed differently, how I did something or someone wrong, etc. I think the issue with people in this industry is that no one ever wants to be wrong or wants to accept when they need to do better. It’s always worth a conversation!
Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.
I always talk about this one specific moment but the time I photographed Diddy’s 50th birthday party will always be a pillar in my career. How I ended up there was that every year in December, I would fly to Los Angeles from Maryland (where I am from), and I would go to this greek event called Kappa Khristmas Jam. I went two previous years but in 2019, I decided to go for a few extra days and bring my camera with me. At the time, I was freshly self-employed because I quit my job in April, 2019 to pursue photography full time. I didn’t know anyone in LA except my uncle and a friend of mine who worked for Puff at the time. All the days I was there, none of the shoots I tried to set up ending up working out and I was super disappointed but the last night, I was asked to shoot his party. Initially, I wasn’t going to go because I kept telling myself there would be endless photographers there much older than me and way more experienced. Eventually, my friend talked me into going and I dropped everything I was doing to go. I end up getting there and the room was full of celebrities that I always wanted to meet. Beyonce, Kobe Bryant, Cardi, Doja, Jay-Z, Kelly Rowland, Saweetie, Kim Kardashian, Kanye, Usher, Kylie Jenner, and the list goes on. I told myself that leaving the room without any connections would be stupid because I might as well have not gone. So I ended up working the room, networking, trying to get connected with as many people as possible. Towards the end of the party, I remember thinking that I was exactly at the right place at the right time doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Sometimes you have to lock in with yourself, put your pride aside and really be hungry for what you want. I was only 21 at the time but I knew one day I wanted to live in LA and I wanted all of the people in that room to be my clientele. After that, I would go to LA every month for a few days to work and eventually moved full time in June, 2021. Fast forward to today, a lot of the people in that room are now my clients like Doja and Cardi and it’s so reassuring to know my steps have always been ordered. I like telling that story to remind people to never let imposter syndrome get in the way of your dreams and to realize that you would never be called upon to do something if God didn’t think you couldn’t handle it. I never question myself when I enter rooms now or doubt that I should be there.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?
For me, the biggest challenge was dropping everything and moving across country. Like I mentioned earlier, I was going to LA every month for a few days to work while being a full time student and running a full service photography business. A few days turned into every other week and it started to get to the point where I was tired of doing that to my body and I kept missing big opportunities in LA as soon as I would get on the plane to go home. I kept getting signs from God to move and I kept delaying it and eventually I just had to ask myself how many signs I needed for confirmation. Moving was difficult because I really didn’t know anybody outside of my clients and all my friends and family were back home. Granted, I had roommates but they were bicoastal as well and rarely came to LA so our apartment was always just me. The time difference was frustrating, that was my first time living outside of Maryland, I wasn’t able to be present for friends & family, and work was slow at first because I had to rebuild my entire clientele. A year later, I know now moving was the best decision and completely changed my life. I grew through it by learning to be okay with being alone. I spent a lot of time at home and it allowed me to do a lot of self reflecting. I learned a lot about myself and knew that the chapter I was in eventually had to end. I would try to cheat at first and go home every other week and it ended up making things worse and something clicked in my head. I realized I couldn’t welcome new blessings until I fully accepted my new environment. I had to stay still in LA and see it through.
Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?
I’ve already met two of them but three people I would like to get to know to elevate my career would be Rihanna, Zendaya, and Lauryn Hill. I really admire Rihanna because she started out with music and has created an entire empire for herself. People that are able to cancel out all the noise around them and pivot to do something new and unknown will always have respect in my book. I believe people should let their gifts take them as far as they can and once you feel like you’ve become successful enough in that field, you are more than welcome to move on to something new. People are constantly pressing her out for new music but I don’t think she has to put out anything else if she doesn’t want to. If that chapter in your life is over, you have every right to close it out and move on and people should accep that. Knowing someone like that on a personal level would definitely help me grow my career because she’s knowledged on running businesses and has a lot of knowledge to share. Zendaya would be next because she’s closer to my age and has been working like crazy since she came on the scene in 2010. I love that she’s made an entire new identity for herself outside of Disney (which is hard to do) and is always moving upwards in her career. I’d love to talk to her and then compare her experiences to someone like Rihanna where they’ve both done it all modeling, music, and acting. Finally, I’d love to meet Lauryn Hill because based off of her music, I think we have a lot of similarities spiritually. She’s been through a lot and just being able to listen to her and take in any wisdom from her would be an honor.
Drop your social media links.
Photography page is @jpwphoto