We’re not sure if Olivia Rae James is always in beautiful places or just has the ability to make any place beautiful, but we are certain that we always want to hop right into the sunshine-soaked frame. The Charleston-based photographer is the ultimate example of Southern charm and success, capturing subjects from Bill Murray to outdoor dinner parties to beachfront weddings with grace and a bit of whimsy. Olivia has a knack for capturing that exact moment when a laugh starts, a look in the eyes that tells a story, completely candid smiles. Her images are always beautifully lit; her subjects are unfailingly styled with the type of attention to detail that appears effortless.
Olivia wears the Camps Bay Backpack in Smoke.
ONA: How did you get into photography/videography?
ORJ: Growing up I loved documenting everything (like most teenage girls) and it just progressed very organically from there. I never set out to be a photographer.
ONA: What camera do you shoot with? What is your “go to” lens of choice?
ORJ: I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark iii and I love my 35mm f/1.4 lens. I hardly ever switch it up.
ONA: What sort of project drives your creativity? Follow Up: What is your dream project?
ORJ: Projects that push me out of my comfort zone make me a better photographer — and I think that goes with anything. It’s scary but always rewarding. For example: I love working independently but when I collaborate with others, it usually ends up being such an energizing, inspiring experience.
Dream project? Something involving travel, food, and happy people.
ONA: What is the hardest thing about being a photographer/videographer?
ORJ: For me it’s the business side of things. Taxes, organization, keeping track of numbers. — not my forte. I’m working on it. Also, putting yourself out there, in any capacity, is a scary thing. I’ve learned (and am still learning) to develop a thicker skin and not take things personally.
ONA: Describe your style of shooting.
ORJ: I like shoots that feel natural and laid-back. Ninety-nine percent of the time I’m working with real people (non-models), and I think making them comfortable is the absolute most important thing. Awkwardness shows.
ONA: In one sentence, what advice would you give to a photographer/videographer just starting out?
ORJ: Trust your gut, work hard, find balance, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
ONA: How did you hear about us?
ORJ: I honestly can’t remember. I think I was just going down the Pinterest rabbit hole, searching desperately for a camera bag that didn’t look like a camera bag. I’m in love with my Camps Bay Backpack — beautiful and practical.