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Meet Jizelle Kocher

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jizelle Kocher.

Hi Jizelle, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
From a young age, I have always been interested in creating, both in front and behind the camera. I remember when I was six and my dad had our camera recorder connected to the TV and I was pretending to have my own show and actually recorded over our vacation footage! When I was in middle school, I would take photos on my iPhone 4 and I was always over documenting. But it was when I was thirteen and my auntie, who is a professional photographer, saw the photos I had taken on my iPhone and told my mom that I had the “eye.” I knew nothing about editing at that age, but I had a knack for seeing things in a unique and aesthetic way. During this time in 2011, Instagram became the newest app to post your photos on, so I began posting for fun and learning how to edit throughout high school. It wasn’t until I was eighteen when I got my first DSLR camera as a graduation gift from my mom. With my new camera, I was always posting high-quality photos onto Instagram and creating my personal brand as @alohajizelle, and I even tried out YouTube a few times.

It wasn’t until 2017 when I began to get noticed by brands on my Instagram and did my first brand collaboration. From 2017-2019, I was mainly focused on creating travel video edits. Then, COVID hit. I was stuck at home and school was put on hold. I decided to use this to my advantage and let the creativity flow. I took about ten at-home self photoshoots in a month. I also started creating Tik Toks, which also began popping off. And I decided to take my Instagram seriously, which resulted in dozens of brand collaborations/partnerships, one of them including my very first paid post ever!! Since I had so much practice in 2020 with my camera, once I was vaccinated, I was ready to monetize and do real photoshoots with real people! Current day, I have photoshoots every week from friends of friends, strangers, and tourists visiting from out of town. I have grown my Tik Tok and infamously known as “@sandiegobabe,” and have worked with so many San Diego small businesses. It has been quite the journey leading up to now, but I wouldn’t change it. I’m exactly where I’m suppose to be and doing what I love to do in the city that raised and inspired me.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been the easiest, but I believe the obstacles I faced and the people who come and go is part of any creative’s creative style. I had to try different types of cameras, editing tools, work with different people, travel near and far, and do hundreds of photoshoots, small and big, to be able to produce the work I put out today. And I still have so much growth to do still! But it’s crazy how my creativity evolved as I evolved as a person. The friends I had when I was in high school, when I was a YouTuber, and now a photographer and Tik Tok Creator all played a part in molding me as a person but also expanded my creative skills. Although being a YouTuber, a model, a travel influencer, and friendships may not have worked out. I believe the more places you go, the more you figure out where you’re supposed to be! So I’m grateful for the bumpy road!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
As you know now, I have tried all different types of digital media. Aside from nursing school, my creativity has been focused on my photography and Tik Tok. Photography wise I do a lot of high schools and college graduation photos, birthday portraits, and couple photo shoots. I really love to do lifestyle photography because to me they are the most beautiful and authentic type of photos.

As for Tik Tok, I mainly create all things San Diego videos. I started off vlogging my days and labeling it as a “San Diego Date Idea.” I like to focus on small San Diego businesses since the pandemic hit them hard, and people wanted to help and support them. I’ve always wanted to grow my social media, but I’m really glad and proud I grew it in a way that I can help others in my hometown. What sets me apart as a photographer is that I also do the whole “Instagram Influencer” thing, so I know what’s in style and trendy, and I know what it’s like being in front of a camera, so I know how to make people feel comfortable. What sets me apart as Tik Tok Creator, I believe, is my authenticity. Any creator is trying to increase their followers and views, but I also have this inner mission to create a trending video that will help promote a small business.

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
Sometimes I feel like it may be difficult to find a mentor as a creative because everyone’s life and style is so unique. I haven’t really had a mentor, but I have gone out of my way many times to network in order to create connections. It can be as simple as a direct message! Making connections through social media has worked well for me. If I happen to meet someone in person, I just try to put my best foot forward! Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!!

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Jizelle Kocher

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