Name, Location, Occupation
Olivia Rae James
Please describe your workspace:
I have a desk set up in the middle of the apartment I share with my boyfriend and tiny pup. It’s all white with super-high ceilings and giant windows, so there’s always lots of natural light pouring in. My desk is just a big wooden table with my iMac, favorite framed photo (an elderly couple kissing by Lauren Fleishman), some candles, stacks of mail, etc. I’ll admit to almost always having Food Network on TV while editing photos. I love that Ina.
What are you working on right now?
I just finished a personal series on love and partnership for a local magazine (which I LOVED working on), lots of family shoots, an elopement in Wyoming, a book proposal for a design guide to Brooklyn, a food column on Gardenista, a big Kinfolk dinner next month, and training my new puppy.
What has been your most rewarding project to date?
My blog. I started in on a whim in college (bored before class one morning), not thinking it would ever be something people would look at. It’s forged so many life-long relationships and given me opportunities I would have never dreamed of. It’s also helped me develop a thicker skin and become more comfortable with negative criticism (as comfortable as a sensitive soul can get with negative criticism...), but ultimately it led me to finding my love for photography.
Who are you inspired by?
So many. To name a few in the photography category: Andrew and Carissa Gallo, Tec Petaja, Max Wanger, Tim Coulson, Hugh Forte, Parker Fitzgerald, Jamie Street, Chantal Anderson, Ben Williams, Aran Goyoaga, Allister Ann.
And in general, my parents -- their lifestyle, their attitude, their relationship, the way they go about their day-to-day existences. The adoration and respect I have for them is beyond my means of expression. My mom has taught me, through example, everything I know about everything. She is my spiritual guru. My dad is amazing too -- he's one of the most optimistic people I've ever met. Also in the arts (music), he has always maintained a healthy balance between work and family that I try to emulate. Maintaining perspective is key. I'm constantly "checking myself" and imagining myself from a Google maps aerial view of the universe.
Has there been a defining moment or turning point when you realized what you wanted to do for a living?
Totally. I was working full-time at a job unrelated to photography. It was a great opportunity but it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. Even with supportive, artistic parents, I didn't feel that photography was a viable career option for me -- it seemed too good to be true. Eventually I was doing shoots (pro bono) before and after work for people around town -- families, restaurants and personal projects for my blog -- when my boyfriend was like, “Why are you doing all this for free? You do know people make a living doing this...? And from there he helped me get my business off the ground. He’s a graphic designer and coming from a freelance background, he knew things about working for yourself that I was clueless about (plus he made me a beautiful website, business cards, etc.). I know the time would have eventually come for me to switch gears, but I’m so glad he (and my family) gave me the push and support I needed to make the jump then. I truly believe that if you want something, you just have to go for it -- even if it doesn’t make sense practically, financially, whatever.
What do you think is the most difficult aspect of your work?
Two things -- the business/organization side of things will always be hard for me; taxes, money, invoicing. The other thing I find difficult about working in a creative field is the self-scrutiny that comes along with it. I’m extremely critical of myself and my work (as I think most people are?) and it’s easy for me to go down the rabbit hole of comparison. I have to remind myself that it’s my own life and personal journey that counts (in the words of my mom).
What are you reading at the moment?
I just finished Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. It’s hilarious. I was reading it on a plane alone and had to force myself to reign in the hysterical giggling. Over the summer I read both of Cheryl Strayed’s books and absolutely fell in love with her. I’m a sucker for girl-power memoirs.
What websites do you visit for inspiration?
Sprouted Kitchen, Freunde von Freunden, Kinfolk, Industry of One, Local Milk, Miss Moss, Big Bang Studio, Design Love Fest, East Side Bride... to name a few.
What are your simplest daily pleasures?
Cuddling my pup in the mornings -- she tries to be my little spoon, with her head on the pillow and everything. A glass of rose in the evening when my boyfriend gets home from work. Making dinner for friends. Driving my car-less sister to Trader Joe’s. Walking to the end of the peninsula to catch the sunset over the water. Eating gummy vitamins. Texting my mom.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I’m not much of a long-term planner, I usually just go with the flow and trust that things will work out. But since you asked, I hope my future includes lots of photos, travels, friends, family, love, cooking, wine, 3-hour dinners, bike rides, etc. As cliche as it is, I just want myself and my loved ones to be healthy, content, and finding happiness in the daily grind.