To celebrate Pride this month, we’re sharing the stories of young creatives showing their pride and proving that love is love. We’ve partnered with GLSEN to introduce an exclusive collection of graphic tees and hats, as well as Fujifilm to curate a Instax Mini Group Show with all profits donated to GLSEN in support of LGBTQ youth. Here we chat with Kayla Reefer– LA based photographer and cinematographer.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
Well... my names Kayla. I'm a Gemini. My birthday just passed (woot, woot!). My favorite color is green. I have a lil' Pug named Prince, who was named after the almighty purple one. I was born in Lancaster, California, and raised mostly in the Caribbean and LA. I moved around a lot until I was about 17. As far as the whole artist thing, I picked up my first camera when I was 19 with dreams of becoming a filmmaker and director. Before diving into that however, I fell in love with photography and I've been hooked ever since. Nowadays, I freelance as a Photographer and Cinematographer/DP.
What does love mean to you?
Love to me means respect, honesty, and transparency, whether that be with oneself or with others.
Are there any people in your life who have been particularly inspiring for you?
Definitely my parents. They had to leave their lives behind in Panamá to come here, pretty much starting all over with just the hopes of a better life for themselves and their kids. They already had my two older siblings by the time they were 21 so you could say they had to grow up really fast. I take their hard work and sacrifices very seriously, so anything that I do, I do with them in mind.
What's something about yourself that not many people know?
Hmm... I think at first glance people think I'm serious and uptight or that I have this sort of "hard" exterior when I’m actually the complete opposite. For the most part, I'm goofy / happy go lucky, I joke around a lot (sometimes too much) and I'm quite sensitive and emotional. Hugs + cuddles are my favorite :) Why are you proud to be who you are?
Well, I mean... why wouldn't I be? In all seriousness, it took a lot for me to get to this point not just in my career but my life in general. Growing up I wasn't the most popular person in school, so it made it difficult for me to be proud of who I am. I'm happy to say I've overcome that and I take strides every day to make sure that I walk tall and enjoy this skin I live/breathe in. I'm honored to be who I am.
What is one thing that you wish everyone would remind themselves every day?
That they are one-of-a-kind. Everyone is their own unique self and if you really think about it, there isn't anyone out there who's like you. No need to try and change any part of who you are just to fit in or meet someone else's expectations.
Why is it important to love yourself?
It's important in two ways, for yourself and for others. Loving yourself is important because at the end of the day, you're all you've got. No matter how big of a family you have or how big your circle of friends is, when you lay your head down at night it's only you. As long as it doesn't hinder others, I don't think it's selfish to make sure you're good first. It's also important to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually so that when the time comes, you are readily able to take care of and love someone else.
If you love yourself, you love all things.
What's next for you?
I'm honestly just flowing with things at the moment. I've been working on more personal projects this year in between freelancing so that's been liberating. I'm also in the beginning stages of starting my own studio/company which is a huge step for me and I'm actually scared shitless, but I know in my heart it's what I want to do. I'm slowly but steadily making it happen.
Any advice that you can share that will empower others to be who they are?
Do you, fam! Don't let these people play you!
Lastly, what do you hope for people to take away from your Fujifilm Instax Film series for the upcoming Space 15 Twenty group show?
I hope they take away that there's beauty in even the simplest of moments and that it inspires them to pick up any camera and start taking photos of their own.
Check out more details on the upcoming UO Pride Fujifilm Instax Group Show here!
Follow Kayla on Instagram