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Rising Stars: Meet Jacob Olson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jacob Olson.

Jacob, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I come from an artistic family. I mean, my parents met at art school in Minneapolis, for god’s sake. That being said, art, and specifically photography, didn’t come easy.

I bought my first camera during my freshman year of college. I’d gone camping a few times during the fall and wanted desperately to start documenting my trips. Now, after five-ish years of shooting, I am secure enough to admit that my early photographic ventures were … rough.

After dedicating just over a year to get better (still not great) at photography, I studied abroad in Australia. With about two months left down-under, I bought a Nikon D750 in hopes that I’d run out of money for my return trip and be forced to stay in Australia. Unfortunately, I budgeted too well and just ended up with an awesome camera in a beautiful country. I became a “photographer” in New South Wales, AUS.

Since then my goal has been simple. Shoot anything and everything. Weddings? Sure. Landscapes? No doubt. Film-shots of my college roommate slamming beers outside U.S. Bank Stadium? You-betcha.

I describe my photographic style as, “mindless documentation of the moments that move me.”

I don’t shoot to make a living; I shoot out of love for the life I live. I take photos of my girlfriend, my home, my friends, the food I cook, and the memories I make.

Photography has become an integral part of my daily life, and I wouldn’t have in any other way!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I don’t have any incredible stories of having gear stolen or anything like that, but my career has never really perfectly smooth. In the beginning, like any young artist, it took me a long time to really find my photographic identity. Even today, I don’t really believe I have a full understanding of why I do what I do.

As far as material obstacles go, I’ve been lucky to have very few. I hate to reference COVID because a lot of folks went through so much more than I did, but I really hit some financial hard times during the initial lockdown. After two or three months, I was forced to sell every camera I owned, save for my daily-shooter 35mm.

I’m really grateful for the obstacles that I’ve been presented with during my artistic career. One of the things that I pride myself on as an artist is my resourcefulness, which is a skill that I likely would not have developed without being challenged a time or two.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m a photographer, with a love for documenting the human experience as I live and observe it. I’ve described my style as “mindless documentation of the moments that move me”. At this point in my career, that direction has produced a sort-of romanticized documentary portfolio. Using my camera, I capture the little things and present them in a way that lets us all appreciate small moments a bit more.

I think my love for analog processes makes me unique, especially considering my usual subject matter. My run-and-gun style makes shooting film a challenge, but I’ve always felt more connected to analog work than digital.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
Like I mentioned earlier, my camera fleet took a serious hit during COVID-19. As a result, I got very good at producing awesome work with the one camera that I couldn’t bring myself to sell. For almost a year, I shot with one camera and one lens. That camera is fully manual with a broken light meter, which meant I had to master the sunny-16 rule and really dial in my shooting process with bare-minimum gear.

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Jake Olson

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