North Atlanta Class of 2019 graduate Justin Lowe also known as “JLenz” wasn’t your typical average kid in high school. The Atlanta native’s style in fashion, music, and photography spoke for him. Coming from an artistic family, executing his thoughts and plans never seemed to be a problem for him.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to follow or even take a glance at JLenz on social media, there won’t be a time where you don’t see him involved in something creative. If he isn’t posting a picture he took of Hoodrich Pablo Juan or a video he shot of Young Nudy, he’s tweeting about recording music and dropping it on Soundcloud just for the fun of it.
While still in high school, JLenz co-founded Arthouse and made a name for himself in party promotions, fashion, and music. After graduating, Jlenz decided to take his skills to Howard University and major in Film and TV.
VOX ATL had the opportunity to talk to JLenz about what made him put his photography skills up to the test and how far he plans on going with it, what else he has in store for himself and advice for upcoming artists.
VOX ATL: What inspired you to become a photographer/videographer?
JLenz: I started off doing videos and what inspired me really was Chief Keef, watching his music videos how they were all in the house. It wasn’t a really big budget but the videos still had a quality to them. The pictures started when I was around people. You can take the picture way faster than you can record a whole video and pictures are just more convenient and you can take a million pictures in the same amount of time that you can probably shoot one video so I just started doing pictures cause it was quicker.
Pictured above: Rapper Hoodrich Pablo Juan
VOX ATL: How would you describe your type of style for photography?
JLenz: From a technical aspect, it’s a lot of high exposure photos, I use my flash a lot. I like to capture raw moments, moments that people might not expect to see. I feel like my style is kinda everyday life just with a real like rockstar type of look to it.
VOX ATL: Do you remember the first picture you took?
JLenz: I remember the first picture I took when I was taking myself seriously. It was a picture of Nate (producer Spiffy Global’s manager) and Spiffy. They were sitting in some chairs. I just took a picture of them and that was the first time I took myself seriously.
VOX ATL: From this picture, what made you start taking everything more seriously?
JLenz: It was just kind of being able to just capture what I see with my eyes. When you take a picture that moment is forever. Instead of it being just a memory in my head, I could turn it into an actual piece of art. After my first shoot with Spiffy, that’s what made me wanna keep doing it. Just being able to capture the moment and capture memories.
Pictured above: Producer Spiffy Global
VOX ATL: You shoot with a lot of artists, how do you come up with your ideas for the pictures and videos?
JLenz: It really depends on the artist, if I know him he may be more open to me telling him “ok do this” or “let’s take pictures here” or “let’s do this here.” But with an artist, you don’t really know you kinda have to capture the moment with them and still apply your style to it so that it is unique. Like, it’s your image and it’s your style but they might not be as open to your creative ideas because they don’t really know you like that, but it really just depends on the artist. I still wanna take pictures how I usually take pictures but I’ma make it work for whoever I’m shooting with. You kind of have to find a way to put your style with their style.
VOX ATL: If you could shoot with any artist this year, who would it be?
JLenz: Hold on, I got a list. Playboi Carti, [Young] Thug for sure, Travis [Scott]. I wanna start shooting athletes now, so any of the NBA players, NFL players, WNBA players. I wanna start shooting for women so Jorja Smith and Jhene [Aiko]. Oh, Chief Keef, I got a long list. Those are probably the first people. Oh and A$AP Rocky for sure.
VOX ATL: How far do you want to take your photography career?
JLenz: At first, I didn’t really know how far I wanted to get, I didn’t really see how to take it far. I just thought shooting for a bigger artist would be taking it far, but I wanna be the biggest photographer in the world. I wanna do exhibits overseas, exhibits in New York, LA, Tokyo. Anywhere in the world where they wanna see my work and I wanna be able to travel. I really wanna make a living off of being the biggest photographer in the world.
VOX ATL: Earlier this year on Instagram you said, “Stopped shooting videos for a second lost my passion for it but we right back at it just give me a few weeks.” What was that about and Was there a point in time, where you doubted yourself?
JLenz: I’m used to being back home, where I can just literally call somebody and pull up and just take pictures. But up here it’s a little different cause you know, the music scene in [Washington] D.C. not really booming as Atlanta’s scene so I was getting frustrated. I might make a song or draw or just find a way to be creative in another way than just taking pictures because if you just ball yourself in one, you’re gonna let it stress and that’s kinda what was happening for a little bit. So I had to kind of step away and really think about it before I kept going with it.
VOX ATL: You take a lot of pictures of different rappers, what’s one of the craziest moments you’ve had?
JLenz: It was December of 2017 and Gucci Mane had a show at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. So I went with Hoodrich Pablo Juan and the only thing I wanted to do when I first started taking pictures when I was young like 14-15, was shoot Gucci Mane. That’s all I wanted to do. When Gucci came out, I don’t know, I’ve never really been star struck before. I just really couldn’t believe it was him and it was like, that was the only goal I had at first, so that was hard.
Pictured above: Gucci Mane
I ran into Lil Baby in the studio one time. This was when “My Dawg” just got on the radio and he was cool people, it was him and Lil Duke. He was cool people but like, I’m not really too into his music like that. You know, I listen to a few songs, but it was him and his girl and when I saw them that was the first time I had ever seen them and I was like damn that’s kinda crazy.
Pablo opened the mall one time after it was closed just to go get some shoes out of there. I took hella pictures. That was crazy because I didn’t know people could do that.
VOX ATL: Do you have any advice for upcoming photographers/videographers starting at the age you started at?
JLenz: Don’t box yourself in. It’s cool to shoot for an artist or be like an artist’s personal photographer, but you gotta figure out your brand as a photographer too because if you just shoot for one rapper and that rapper fell off, it’s like you damn near fell off with them. So you kinda gotta be able to have your own brand even if you are someone’s personal photographer. Don’t get too attached to anybody. Sit down and figure out what you wanna work towards and execute. Even when you are trying to execute your plan, everything is not gonna go as planned. You gotta be ready for anything. You gotta learn how to still make it happen even with the little bumps in the road. You’re gonna get to your end destination, it just might not be as fast as you thought.