Monique Jones Is The Self Portrait Queen

We asked the talented photographer and model about her inspiration, the biggest challenges of the industry, and how she approaches creativity.

Self Portrait of Monique Jones, black and white
Photo: Monique Jones

Your work is amazing! What drove you to create portraits with these unique concepts in the first place?


Thank you, I really appreciate that! I’ve always had a huge passion for self-portraits since I was 13 years old. I joined Instagram for the first time around 2013 and I was immediately infatuated by the photography and artwork on the app. Since then, my love for self-portraits just continued to grow and I started getting more creative as time went on. Once I got into high school, I realized that I had a strong passion for film and figured that I could turn my self-portraits into somewhat of a film portfolio. Which explains my cinematic shots, characters, and long slides. I want every post to feel like it could be in a movie or looks like a story, and now here we are today.


What is your biggest source of inspiration? And when that source is not available or you face a creative block, how do you approach that?


My biggest source of inspiration usually comes from the top of my head or from Pinterest. I tend to look for more vintage and unique photos. But I mainly look for things that look fun to do. I really enjoy doing my job and I like every shoot to come with a challenge. I am faced with creative blocks every now and then, but I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself to create because I want to work when I feel inspired to do so, not just to keep followers. However, it does mean a lot to me that I keep my viewers interested/inspired so that also inspires me and helps me get out of my rut.


How would you define your work in terms of aesthetics and style?


It’s hard to put my work into one aesthetic because I have such a variety. But overall, I would say I have a vintage, neon, drama aesthetic. I gravitate towards my neon lights a lot and I tend to look at more vintage things for Inspiration.


Monique Jones photo
Photo: Monique Jones

When it comes to your creative process, what do you enjoy doing most and what aspects represent the biggest challenge?


When it comes to my creative process, I’d say that getting ready or “in character” is the part I enjoy the most. Something about the challenge it takes to transform myself into my visions character is just so much fun; especially when I’ve never done anything like that look before. I’d say the hardest challenge is when I really want a shot that’s typically a lot easier if another person were holding the camera. There are some difficult angles that are hard for a tripod to get so I have to get really creative to figure it out; and that can be very stressful for me in the middle of shooting.


Is there anything you do to relax after finishing a project?


There is no relaxing after shooting for me. The second I finish my shoots, I clean up and run to my room to look through the images. Sometimes I will even keep my character’s hair or makeup on just so that I can start editing. I am so eager to see what I created that I usually end up pulling all nighters to edit the entire shoot before the next day. I rarely take a break after I finish a shoot, and there were dozens of all-nighters due to this.


Photo: Monique Jones

What are you most excited for this year?


I’m most excited to see how far I can go this year. I want to see how hard I can push myself and succeed. Throughout 2021, I felt that I was underrated and couldn’t reach the goals I set for myself. However, I’m starting this new year with a different mindset. I still agree that my work is very underrated but I no longer believe that I can’t reach my goals, because this will be the year that it happens. This year is going to be one for the books and I’m more than excited to already be starting that journey.


When you started out, is there anything you wish you’d done differently? Is there any advice you’d give to young creatives?


I personally wouldn’t change a thing I did differently when I started out. I let my passion for self-portraits and artwork in general expand and I embraced all of it. I, unfortunately, allowed people to dim my light growing up and I let them tell me that my work wasn’t good enough. I was bullied for being different, and little did I know that being different was actually what made me so special. If I could give younger creatives advice, it would be to stay true to yourself. Be your own number one fan and root for yourself until you get to where you want to be. Every person has a gift, and you find out what that gift Is when you ask yourself “What do I do the absolute best with the least amount of effort?” Is it music, art, studying, sports, fashion, theater, public speaking, etc.? Once you find that, do whatever it takes to embrace that gift. Challenge yourself, believe in yourself, and strive for the best.

 

Make sure to follow Monique Jones's work via her Instagram and TikTok.