In today's day and age, photography is more pronounced than ever before. Since the emergence of camera phones, everyone is a self-proclaimed photographer. So how does one really stand out and rise above the rest?

Meet Jayscale, who's real name is Jamal Burger. With an Instagram following of over 150k, he truly is an Instagram star. A Regent Park native, he dropped out of kinesiology at U of T and began taking photos of the city full time. In fact, if you've ever seen an incredible sky-high photo of Toronto, there's a pretty good chance it was taken by Jayscale.

We sat down with the photographer and asked him the question everyone's had on their mind: how do you become a succesful photographer?

via @jayscale

 1. How did you come up with the name Jayscale, and what is the significance?

The name Jayscale kind of came out of nowhere. At first when I had the intention to start a photography-specific page on Instagram, I was trying to think of a niche I could work hard on and own in my own respects. The idea I came up with was black and white; grayscale, and with my name starting with a J, I decided to fuse the two. Over time I realized I wanted to post in colour on Instagram. I found a healthy balance by somewhat desaturating my images. Overall, I love black and white more than anything, there's so much that can be done in that world.


Photo cred - Jayscale

2. What does it take to be a successful street/urban photographer in Toronto?

Be yourself, let your personality be conveyed through your lens. There's so much opportunity in photography throughout that this city that it's better to be known for being you than anything else. If you can become your best self, when it comes to work, nobody will be able to produce your perspective quite like you.


3. What camera equipment do you mostly use and which do you enjoy the most?

I usually go out with my 5dmarkIII and a couple lenses depending on the situation. When it comes to work, I love my 85. I recently fell in love with canon's new 11-24 as well.


Photo cred - Jayscale

4. Which city is the most 'photogenic' from the ones you photographed? Which one that is the most difficult to photograph?

On the right day, Chicago. I never had so much fun shooting in a city as I did last year during a snow storm. In terms of cityscape, from the places I've travelled, I'm currently having the hardest time here in Toronto. I want to continually push the envelope, I want to show improvement, however it can be tough with having to do work as well as me feeling like I've seen the entire city already. I also have the worst timing, because I'm never here when epic things are happening. I hope to have more control over that this year so I can get back to shooting where I started. I love this city so much, therefore I love when I'm able to showcase that.


5. What’s the craziest spot you’ve ever found yourself taking a photo in?

Most recently, Austria. I honestly can't believe that I was there. It will always seem surreal to me.


Photo cred - Jayscale

6. What editing apps are you using? Which ones would you recommend to someone new at photography?

I started with, and still to this day use Lightroom. I'd recommend any new photographer to give it a shot. Lightroom is quick and easy to learn and understand.


Photo cred - Jayscale

7. Who are your biggest influences? Which Toronto photographers should we follow on Instagram?

I get my inspiration from super hard-working individuals. Casey Neistat, Levi Maestro, and for photography, @jasonmpeterson on Instagram. They're all individuals to me that have learned how to work hard and produce content meaningful to their self. More importantly, they're probably some of the nicest people you will ever meet. I really hope that one day I can do that here in Toronto long term.


8. Have you done any collabs with brands in the past and if so who was your favourite to work with?

In terms of direct collaboration, no not yet. I'd love to however I know that it is a work in progress. From the perspective of sharing ideas, yes I have. If I'm approached to work on something, I like to have a say in order to stay as true to myself as possible.


Photo cred - Jayscale

9. What are some upcoming projects for 2016?

A couple projects related to the All-Star Game I can't really speak on at the moment. Besides that, I hope some other cool things I'm passionate about work out for me. The goal is to get to a point where the things I invest my time in, inspire people to chase their dreams.


10. Where can we bump into you in Toronto?

Haha, downtown. If I'm in the city, I'm biking somewhere all the time. In terms of staying put, I'm at livestock most frequently. I work there plus I love sneakers and we got the best selection, hands down. I love Toronto so much, it's amazing how such a big city is so small at the same time. I always run into fellow photographers and I enjoy meeting new creative people. It's a blessing.

Photo cred - Jayscale

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