Life Behind the Lenses with Kayla Aihara

"I think I'm just interested in working with people that have relationships and a certain dynamic with one another that is interesting to capture."
- Kayla Aihara

Kayla Aihara
Kayla Aihara, a nineteen year-old photographer from Los Angeles, isn’t your ordinary photographer — she’s got some big dreams and a great mindset. Kayla is currently going to school in Washington, DC, and has a life full of adventures. With over twenty thousand followers on Instagram, her talent has skyrocketed to the top, and we can't wait to see where she's heading.

WRITTEN CITIZEN: Hey Kayla! I absolutely love your work. Thank you for sitting down and talking with us. So, give us a taste of what your average day is like.

KAYLA AIHARA: Hey Brin — no problem! My typical day is pretty packed—I am a full-time college student in DC, and I work about thirty hours a week at a grocery store. So, every day, I'm either in class, at work, at the gym, or trying my hardest to find time to shoot. I'm from California and currently not used to the cold weather, so I've been in a bit of hibernation right now, as I avoid the cold. If I have free time, I love to explore coffee shops and go to the art galleries in DC.

WC: What originally inspired you to become involved in photography? What made your social media go off the charts?

KA: I've always been interested in photography. My mom would always take a ton of photos, so I guess I grew up around it. I didn't actually pick up an interest in doing photography until the beginning of high school when I started getting inspired by photographers on Flickr and wanted to try it for myself. 
   I really don't know how my social media started getting popular. I've had Instagram for so long that it wasn't a skyrocket of followers, but I feel like I worked and developed my followers over time. I've also made a lot of friends on Instagram and met up with a lot of people that I think helped get my name out there.

WC: You’ve got quite the talent! Have you, and would you, ever want to sell your art?

KA: I haven't ever sold any prints of my work, but I've definitely considered it. For me, it's all about finding the right channel to sell them through.

Model: @jettsolana
WC: We know you love being a part of the photography world, but is there anything else you aspire to be?

KA: That's a hard question for me to answer because I don't know. At times, I don't really want a 'solid job' because I want to travel and experience the world, and I currently don't feel a need to have that 'grown up job' you were told to have when you were younger. However, I'm currently in school to work towards being a museum curator or exhibition designer, which is definitely something I can see myself doing in the future. I would love to continue doing photography, though, and I hope to be able to travel a lot with whatever job I'll have. 
   This sounds so corny, but I want to be a citizen of the world. I think I will always consider Los Angeles my home since that is a huge part of me, but I'm not content with being in one place. I actually have a list on my phone of all the places I want to live, and the list keeps growing everyday. I don't think I'm content with just settling down, getting married, working nine to five, or being in one place. One of my friends once said that she didn't want one trip to be the 'trip of her life', but for her whole life to be the trip. That really resonated with me because I want to constantly be out on adventures and experiencing new cultures and different people, so I currently can't imagine myself settling down.

WC: Have you ever been in front of the camera? How does it feel? Would you ever go forth in modeling?

KA: I've been in front of the camera a couple of times with my friends who are photographers, as well as with myself since I do a lot of self-portraiture work. I am definitely much more comfortable being behind a lens than in front of it, but sometimes I think it's good to push yourself and get out of your comfort zone. I would probably never go forth in modeling, but I have fun doing little shoots with my friends. I tend to like self portraiture simply because I know exactly the shot for which I am looking in my head, and when I have full control, it's easier to create that moment.

Model: @indiesunshine
WC: What are your thoughts on teenage nudity on the Internet? It's not much a deal in our society anymore, but it is, in fact, 'child pornography'. What do you think?

KA: Wow! It's strange to me to think of teenage nudity in a way that is child pornography. I feel like I see so many nude photos on Tumblr that I've become more desensitized to it. I guess when I put work out there, I never really think about who is seeing it on the other end. I don't necessarily approve of teenage nudity that is meant to be provocative or seductive. I think it can be powerful if it is meant to be body-empowering or a statement, but I believe that if it is being posted, the picture needs to be done by the person being photographed, and done with careful consideration. 
   I think that when you are young, it is hard to think long-term of how these photos might affect you in the future, such as in your career or relationships. There also needs to be concern on who can see these photos that are posted and what people are doing with them. At the end of the day, though, it's still illegal and even though it doesn't seem like a big deal, there can still be serious repercussions.

WC: With whom are you hoping to work in the near future?

KA: I would absolutely love to work with Rosie Hardy or Julia Trotti. Both of their work really inspire me, and they are some of the first photographers at which I started to look on Flickr that really got me interested in photography. 
   I am kind of obsessed with the Smith family (Lucky Blue, Pyper America, etc.) on Instagram, and would love the opportunity to shoot with them. Also, after seeing the recent photos of Karlie Kloss and Taylor Swift, I am dreaming of shooting something like that. 
I think I'm just interested in working with people that have relationships and a certain dynamic with one another that is interesting to capture. I would also absolutely love to work with Free People on one of their catalogs. I love their catalogs that tell stories and the vibe that the company has.

Models (from bottom to top): @indiesunshine + @kinley.moore
WC: We hear you love to cook! What have you made of which you've been the most proud? How and when did you start this hobby?

KA: I do love to cook! I definitely think that I'm most proud of the time my friend Shelby and I made lemon macarons with a blueberry filling. They were so delicious and turned out surprisingly well, since we were amateurs at making them. 
   I actually recently started this hobby over the summer. I was always bored at home since a lot of my friends were gone for the summer, so I started to get really active exploring food blogs and recipes on Pinterest. I got one of my friends to come over and we made a feast! Since then, I've been interested in cooking. It also helps that I have my own kitchen this year in which I can try things out.

WC: If you can put your style into five words, what would they be?

KA: Beachy, flowy, vintage, constantly changing.

Model: @indiesunshine
WC: How do you stay positive when it comes to school work? What are your methods to stay focused and not procrastinate?

KA: I just remember what this can mean for me in the long run. I don't really know where I'm headingwhether it be grad school, starting a job right away, or traveling once I graduate, but I don't want to limit my options because I didn't try hard enough now. 
   I also like to put my full effort into something I do, and I don't want to spend a day where I feel like I didn't put my best self into it. I am such a terrible procrastinator, though, so it's really hard to tell myself to study when I feel no motivation. I like to give myself short goals to work towards that make things not seem too overwhelming.

WC: Is there anyone you've met from your photography career that you'll never regret meeting? Why?

KA: I will absolutely never regret meeting anyone in my photography career because they're all important to me and have shaped me to become the photographer I am now. I have made really great friends through Instagram, with whom I already all shared an instant bond because we loved photography. They taught me new techniques and constantly inspire me. Any clients with whom I've worked have taught me the ups and downs of working with different people and have developed me to be a better photographer.

WC: Last question—don't get upset, Citizens—black and blue, or gold and white?

KA: (Laughs.) Both, actually! When I first saw the dress, I saw it as gold and white, and then an hour later, it looked black and blue!

Make sure to follow Kayla on her Instagram!

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