“The Power to Immortalize” with Jo Billion

Jo Billion

“I am both attracted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life” – F Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
 IG: @akabillion
Kingston, Jamaica / NY

What sparked your interest in photography?

At about the age of 12, I would start to notice how nice things in real life would look as a picture. I asked my parents for a camera and they got me a canon point and shoot digital camera for my birthday. I started to take pictures and join my school’s photography club. I would often get dressed up and pose for myself. What really got me interested though was during one club meeting, our president brought in a speaker who showed me a new side of photography which sparked my passion for art itself. Ironically I do not remember his name, but he showed multiple pieces including some drawings of Bob Marley and photographs of women in the nude in a river along with some abstractions of the Banana Leaf.

What is your preference when it comes to working with digital and film cameras?

I prefer digital only because that was what I first learned with. I really love the quality and feel of film though and I will continue to shoot with both.

What inspired your theme in “Portraits”?

 I chose to do Urban Girl (which I am still working on) because it let me express how I feel I’m becoming as a girl who isn’t from New York but now lives here. The culture is very different and it definitely intimidated me at first but now I feel myself assimilating and these pictures show how I feel. It’s like a calm amidst the chaos.

What is your favorite thing to shoot?

I am most inspired when there is a human presence in my images but I do have a love for architecture as well.

I see both photography and videography as ways for one to express themselves, what made you choose one over the other?

Photography gives you the power to immortalize, the power to stop time and the power to give people a different perspective. I guess the same can be said about videography but to me it just doesn’t quite feel the same. It’s hard for the mind to wander with video, you kind of only see what the director of the video wants you to see but a photo is left up for the complete interpretation of the viewer. That’s just my opinion.

Walk me thru a day in the life of Jo Billion with her camera, like what triggers you to turn on your camera and take a picture?

I usually have a lot of regrets. Sometimes I see a picture in front of me but it lasts for like 2 seconds and I don’t get to capture it. The ones I do get to capture though give me great satisfaction. That ‘s why I love portraiture – it’s easy to position a subject or when someone knows their picture is being taken they know not to move too fast. Finding the right subjects can be very hard though. Architecture is the same, because buildings can’t  move; but it is hard to translate the character of a building or how the building is making you feel into a picture.

Where do you draw inspiration from or is there anybody or anything that influences you?​

This may sound bad but I become most inspired when I am jealous. Usually when I’m uninspired and I see another artist showing off their creations I get jealous of the satisfaction they might feel and that motivates me to pick up a camera or pencil or paintbrush. As of a person whom influences me, I get most of my influence from music and the way music makes me feel. The Weeknd and Solange have been influencing me the most lately.

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