We do a lot before we go out. Make sure our look is on point, hair is perfect, and in some cases, face painted perfectly. Though if you go through all that work shouldn’t that look be remembered, even if your night is a little blurry ? Well that’s exactly why we are lucky nightlife has a photographer on hand to document the hard work you put into yourself. Unlike flawless drag queens, sexy go-go dancers, the photographer is the phantom of the gay club. Never seen in the same spot twice, sauntering through the club like a specter of documentation, making sure the night never dies when it end, but lives on through their own lens. Today one of those sauntering specters sits down with us to tell his story. Today we have one of the premiere photographers of West Hollywood nightlife, Jason King.
SS: Jason, thank you so much for joining me today. Tell me something, who the hell are you and how did you get in my house?
JK: You left the door open a crack, it was almost like you were inviting anyone in. Friends knock before entering laughs…. I thought I was your trick when I got here, but I am Jason King and I’m a photographer.
SS: HI JASON!
SS: Jason Are you originally from LA?
JK: No, I’m from a farm in Chehalis, Washington, right in the middle of Seattle and Portland. I grew up there and moved to Vegas when I was 23, lived there for about 5 years then moved to LA. Been here for almost 10 years, so yes you can figure out how old I am.
SS: You look all of 21 at best…I’m more trying to figure out if you’ll sell me your youthful secret. You must be on the new “Sacrificing babies cleanse” I keep hearing about.
JK: Well 21 I am not…but thank you! Youthful secret? Hmmmm… don’t smoke, don’t drink or at least do them at a very minimum. No drugs, moisturize…ROC has been my best friend for about 15 years, and don’t live a stressed out life, just be happy and full of joy all of the time
SS: Do you think that’s because you get to do what you love for a living?
JK: Yes I think that is part of it… but I’ve never really had a job I hated. There were times I was maybe a little miserable at a job but I think that happens to everyone no matter the job. That’s life, you get down at times but instead of staying down you need to find what will pick you back up.
SS: Can you pinpoint one instance where you knew it was true love between you and your camera?
JK: I’ve loved taking pictures since I was a kid. I was always that guy that while on vacation or at a concert I had to take tons of pictures while everyone else just wanted to have fun. Professionally I decided about 2 years ago or so. A few different people would tell me that the pictures of my dogs I took were really good and I should do it professionally. I never honestly thought about doing it professionally and after a while I started to think, yeah maybe I could do this so I bought a camera with the intent of learning and doing it professionally but as a side gig from my regular job. Well, the camera kinda just sat there because i didn’t really know what I was doing and I guess kind of intimidated by all of the functions and also was just busy with everyday life and comfortable doing what I was doing. Well as life would have it, life happened for me…. my ex-fiancé of three years and I broke up and instead of it being a bad thing it actually turned out to be a great thing for me. It lit a fire under my ass and pushed me to do things I had never done…I picked up my camera that just sat there, I asked my friend Beau Byron who was starting a new club night if I could just come and shoot, not get paid. He already had a photographer but i just wanted to learn and practice… fast forward to a year later, I shoot five nights a week in clubs in West Hollywood and one night a week at a club in San Diego. I quit my full time job of almost 10 years about 4 months ago and photography is what I do now. So when someone says, “Oh you poor thing, I’m sorry to hear about your break up…I say, “I’m not! that’s the best thing that has happened to me in years.”
SS: My oh my, that is QUITE the story and one some people can learn from. It’s fantastic that you were able to take something like that and flip it to your advantage.
JK: I’m a believer of what’s meant to be will happen and life has funny ways of screwing you but also giving you everything. You shouldn’t sit on your ass and wait for things to happen but life has a path for you and everything bad in it, always has something good come out of it.
SS: Well that is truly a remarkable story but an even more remarkable way to handle it. While it has only been four months, have you found your life has changed?
JK: Oh totally.I get to sleep in now! After 20 years I totally get to sleep in. I’ve always had that 9-5 job for a corporation, now I work for myself and for the most part make my own schedule, that was the biggest change. I’ve become more social then I was before, working in nightlife I’m sure has had a big part to do with that. I get to be home with my dog all day, I love that. The only bad thing so far, is I don’t get paid vacation days or sick time or 401K, my boss (me) is to cheap to offer that yet.
SS: My boss for this website pays me a half pack of Necco wafers a month (maybe), so I get it. In all of this whirlwind of a new life, what has been your favorite work experience?
JK: Honestly, it’s been amazing when people come up to you and tell you they “love your work.” “That was a great picture you took,” “I follow you on Facebook.” that really tells me that I’m on the right path. I still have a lot to learn, you are always learning and growing but i’m on the right path.
SS: Since you have a unique nightlife role in that you document it, how do you see gay nightlife differently from someone else?
JK: I usually see it sober.
SS: What differentiates your photography style from any other style?
JK: I think everyone has their own style. some people are great at headshots, some are great at nightlife i just try to capture the fun and excitement of what i’m shooting at the time
SS: Photography aside, what are you passionate about
JK: I love my animals and love to travel.
SS: You’ve spoken a couple times today about your dog, so let me ask, how much do you wanna gush about your baby right now?
JK Awe! I love him…. he’s such a good boy.
SS: Tell us a bit about how you and him came to be?
JK: Well, back to my ex! I had three dogs already and my ex wanted a dog. I was like, “No, we have three, we’re good.” Finally I gave in and we searched for about two months for the breed he wanted. One day someone I work with just happened to hear we were looking for a certain breed and she had a mix of that breed and she couldn’t keep him anymore. So we met him and fell in love and well…besides my photography business, Buddy (my dog) is the best thing that came out of the relationship.
SS: Jason, what makes you happy to call West Hollywood, home?
JK: I love West Hollywood because I can walk to everything, I rarely drive my car anymore. It’s clean, safe and a really community. I see all of my friends at work, everyone for the most part seems to respect and support one another, it’s a great community.
SS: Who is your gay icon?
JK: I don’t have a specific gay icon… but I think anyone that helps to create equality, create knowledge and aren’t afraid to be themselves is considered an icon in my book.
SS: What is your favorite song from the 90s?
JK: My favorite artist is Wynonna Judd, that’s a no brainer.
SS: What is one thing people should NOT do to you at a club?
JK: I would say please don’t grab my camera or spill a drink on it.
SS: Where is your favorite place?
JK: Anywhere tropical with a beautiful beach, sunny and blue beautiful water.
SS: What is your favorite piece of advice?
JK: What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger…
SS: And lastly, Jason, at WERRRK.com we believe that everyone has something to plug and everyone can do it sans any shame. What would you like to plug, promote, and make damn sure our readers do!
SS: Jason, even though we can’t figure out if you broke in or I purposefully left the door open, I’m so glad you decided to come in. Your insight and overall outlook on life is something to be appreciated and admired as much as your fantastic photography.
JK: Thank you for having me!