Plays Well with Others

Essay 530 • Jul 3rd 2023

I have a vivid memory of picking up a guitar and playing it with my buddy Doug for the first time. We were all of 13 years old. I’m an only child and I spent a lot of time on my own growing up. This was truly the first time I experienced collaboration. Sure, I played team sports, but this was something altogether different. This was two friends creating music together. We were fearless, playing whatever we wanted—it was glorious.

It probably sounded horrible at the time, but we didn’t care. We didn’t know any better. That’s what being a teenager is all about.

Later that year, we doubled our membership, becoming a real band. All four of us rehearsed in my basement, playing original compositions. My parents tolerated the thundering basement drums and thank god they did because we were in heaven. Eventually, that band broke up. But I formed another one. And another one. And another one.

Being an only child has always made me feel a little bit like a solo act. And I’ve always loved working on my own. Whether it's songwriting, drawing, photography, or another craft. But I long for collaboration, community, and connection as well. Working with people allows me to create something bigger than myself. I play well with others.

This photo essay celebrates that world of collaboration. It also expands upon my previous two photo essays. For the third part of this trilogy, I photographed each model from the last two essays (Jessica from “Bright Idea” and Stephanie from “Lighting A Cosmic Fire”) together, and included a third person, May. Also contributing to this experience were Megan (wardrobe styling) and Rebecca (hair and makeup). Finally, my longtime friend, Matt, sent some sweaters from his brand, Factor’s.

Working in a new environment with unique details is a great way to generate unusual results. I love celebrating the unexpected. This was one of those new experiences for my collection. My advice to you? Never stop playing.

Jason Travis is a photographer, designer, illustrator, and musician based in Los Angeles. His work has been featured by CNN, USA Today, Gizmodo, BuzzFeed, BOOOOOOOM, and many more. He’s allergic to cats, carrots, and will forever love the 90s. He was TPJ’s 2020 Photographer-in-Residence.
Website | Instagram

May Daniels
Jessica Gadzinski
Stephanie Kim

Hair & Makeup Artist:
Rebecca Abraham

Wardrobe Stylist:
Megan Kelley

Knit sweaters provided by:

Casita Cleo

Check out Jason’s other TPJ photo essays:
Suburban Youth
Mind Glow
Vanished Spirits
Ellissa & Harry
Alley Cat
Flowers or Fruit
Isolation Station
Allergy Academy
Niza Jay
Inner Child
Headspace Parade
My Blue Heaven Happy Place
On A Roll
Bright Idea
Lighting a Cosmic Fire
Human Collective