Christmas morning is exactly 75 days away. I’m starting the CandysDirt.com Holiday Gift Guide now, so we can all avoid the last-minute Amazon Blues. And, I’m only featuring local artists because we’ve already ordered everything Jeff Bezos has to offer. Kicking off our seasonal guide is Dallas is photographer Jim Olvera whose work has been featured in national and international ads, galleries, restaurants, and, of course, homes. I’ve asked each artist I’ll feature to tell me, in their own words, what got them started and why they love what they do.
Architecture initially brought Jim Olvera to photography. While studying at Washington University in St. Louis, the dean of the School of Architecture told all of the students to buy a camera and learn to use it. “It will serve you well throughout your career as you document projects, record building sites, and make visual notes of places you’ve been.”
With no camera and having no previous interest in photography, Jim took the dean’s advice to heart. He asked his parents for a camera for Christmas, and he was immediately hooked. Two years later, he had dropped architecture to become the university’s first photography major. After graduating, he moved to Dallas and worked as an assistant to some of the country’s best photographers before starting his own business at the ripe old age of 25.
His practice has kept him busy, photographing people, places, and products. It has given him opportunities to travel the world and experience things that many of us can only dream of.
His greatest pleasure is seeing things that most of us miss, the little things that go unnoticed by passersby.
His limited edition book Paradox/Parallel, subtitled “Everyday ironies and observations,” is a collection of his personal images showcasing his dry wit and keen sense of composition. Context is turned on its head. Scale is exaggerated. People become puzzles. Each of the pictures makes a statement, but also asks a question, “Why?”
Jim’s commissioned work has often overlapped the personal, and vice versa. His is a world in which the boundaries are fuzzy. Images that he’s shot for his own pleasure have become ads for national clients. Images that he’s shot for clients have become personal favorites, sometimes hanging on his own walls or even those of collectors.
When asked the difference between his art and his commercial work, he says that it’s best expressed by a quote from one of his mentors, Herb Weitman, whose work is in art museums as well as the NFL Hall of Fame. “I don’t think there is a difference. There are just good pictures and bad pictures.”
Jim specializes in good pictures.
Find Jim Olvera’s work here.