After Hours 2.22.22
Discussion 8: To Love & Live... with a Side of Legume
with Jessica Ballerstein
Last afternoon we sat down and ran around Bird Park with our very own, Jessica Ballerstein - the master behind the lens of the Thread Spun magic you see over the interweb and in the flesh. We bring you our first 2022 After Hours Discussion, getting to know our favorite photographer just a little more. Jessica carries herself (2 doggos attached) with a well-deserved swagger from experience through life's curveballs and self-reflections. Her maiden name Darius does not fall short of showing insight to her ambition, perseverance and knowledge; meaning "wiseman" in Persian. She may be small but she is mighty, and can climb a wall with such grace that even a swan could shed a tear. And make a playlist with so much hype, your attitude is guaranteed to do a 360 all around to be only on the up and up from there. Hanging out with her felt like slowing down and taking in the simpler details in the day; even while capturing her snapping photos of 3 scrambling children, doggos running, pink cowgirl boots and tufts of grass flying through the air. Jessica reminds us that in the toughest moments of life, there is joy, patience and love. And if we find a lack of meaning in the things we are doing, it is absolutely necessary to make time to revisit your beginning - to rediscover your "why".
Photos by Kim-lien Le• Where are you from?
Long answer: Born in Haiti, Immigrated to NYC when I was 3 where I lived until 20. Spent 10 long years in Boston where I experienced something called a “snowmageddon”
Short answer: East Coast• What brought you to San Diego, CA?
• Did you learn photography at university or are you self-taught?
Self taught thanks to Youtube University.
• What are your top 3 favorite things about the West Coast so far?
Sun, Food and Cannabis
Man, that’s a solid question! So for me photography is about telling a story. That was my motivating drive behind taking photos. At every momentous event of my life I love to capture photos. I was that friend that always had her camera out. Not just for the act of taking photos, I want something to look back on, something that would spark the rawness of the moment. Whether it’s the emotion, the season, the trend etc. It tells a story.
When I got my first professional camera and moved to California my "why" was overcome by "how". How does this camera work, how do I become a professional photographer? How do I do this? How do I do that? Everything around me was so foreign and I lost touch with my "why". I was then taking photos at any event, even those I dreaded. Photography became hard and taxing. I was conforming and photography didn’t feel fun and meaningful. After a trip to Sequoia I realized that and started with the basics... I asked myself “What do I love?” ... The answer was “love”. What else do I love? ... “celebrating”. I decided I want to be the photographer that celebrates with people that are in love! In love with their partner, in love with their passion, in love with the little human growing inside of them or in love with themselves. I thought my presence means there is a celebration and I wanted to be the one that captures the fire.
• Do you feel like your nationality has had any affect on who you are today? Has it contributed to your art?
Man, where do I start…Haiti has always had its protests and micro-revolutions but I would say it's gotten more violent throughout the past 5 years. Actually, let me start with just last year. Gangs started running the protest. I remember being at my parents house in NYC watching the Haitian news talking about locals siding with gang members to have the President killed since he refuses to leave office. They wanted him to leave the same reason they wanted every other president to leave, corruption. Whether corruption was actually happening or not the people didn’t trust their government - rightfully so. There was an increase in gas prices amongst other political shit that was going on. Kidnappings started to increase and so did the rioting. On July 7th the president of Haiti was assassinated. Since then, the nation became a country run by gang members with heavy ammunition. People with any form of notoriety are at risk of getting kidnapped and extorted. It’s been insane and heartbreaking.
Lay down some greens with the Ashby Throw by Slowdown Studio
The idea behind overworking. Millions of people around the world spend their WHOLE lives working. I mean from the moment you can walk you need to work to survive.You’re born, you work, you die. How f****ed is that? Generations upon generations of the idea of hustling and overworking. I would love to see the world LIVE a little.
Keep it together with our favorite handmade Leather Backpack by Neva Opet• Favorite Haitian dish?
Legume. Hands down. It's basically a thick vegetable stew you eat with either; white rice and bean sauce or rice and beans.
• What are your most important values in life?
Been that bitch, still that bitch
Will forever be that bitch”
• What are 5 songs you have on repeat right now?