We had the good fortune of connecting with Mary Jane Cole and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mary Jane, what principle do you value most?
Respect stands out as one of the the most important values to me. I’ve always felt that if you truly have respect for yourself and others, it encompasses most of the other values. You learn to show more gratitude and to be honest and authentic in your communication. Respect cultivates understanding and empathy which drowns out anger. You naturally work harder when you have a real respect for the work you’re doing and the people it will impact. And an important facet I find myself constantly working on is Self-Respect. As a Business Owner, feeling pride and confidence in your work is pivotal. If you don’t believe in what you’re creating, why should anyone else?
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work is definitely not as focused as some say it should be. Being ADHD and Creative translates to having a lot of ‘projects’ and always being excited about something new. Right now I’m learning Tattooing and fiddling with Video. My main love has been Photography for about 8 years now. I’ve shot everything from Racecars to Newborns to Real Estate and I enjoy all of it. I’ve always been told to “find a lane” or to “pick a niche”, but I value being adaptable and the experience that comes with variety far above being a Master of one small niche. I tend to prioritize light and emotion in my photography and have been called a “dark and moody” Photographer. I think the reason I have so much passion for Photography is the story-telling nature of it. It’s introduced me to some of the most interesting people and has put me in a number of places I can’t imagine being with any other career. Being able to share a part of someone’s story– to capture a mother’s first moment holding her baby or a father’s tears as a bride walks down the isle or the passion in an athlete’s eyes — it inspires me constantly. Getting to this point hasn’t necessarily been an easy path, I didn’t just fall into it. A handful of years ago I was living out of a backpack and sleeping in a parking lot in a small town in Utah. I spent just about every last dollar to my name on a one way ticket to California. I had to learn a completely new culture and try to find my place in a saturated field of talented creatives, while scraping together quarters for bus tickets. I’ve worked a myriad of odd day jobs to fund my passions and took photos every free second I got. I learned to fix lenses and cameras and bought most of my equipment used and broken to be able to afford it. My life has done a complete 180 since I moved here 5 years ago, but it’s been constant work and a lot of sleepless nights putting every ounce of my energy into building a Business that could pay my bills and take place of my day jobs. The lessons I’ve learned along the way are too many to list and they’re all invaluable to me. My journey has taught me to relate to people that may be struggling now. Being a Portrait Photographer feels a lot like a never ending celebration of Life and the moments that matter, and I would say my background inspired my deep appreciation for those moments as well as a desire to see (and share) the beauty that can be found in everything. Reaching any new personal success marker is so much more rewarding to me because of how hard I’ve fought for it. Shadows and light are equally valuable and appreciated in art, as I believe it should be in life.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m lucky to have friends all over the world, so I get to play tour guide pretty often when they come to visit. Anyone that knows me knows that I live for food, so it usually involves some obscure hole in the wall restaurant or food truck I’ve recently discovered. There’s a little French Cafe near my house that I take everyone to. Hikes. Rock Climbing. I love going out to the Channel Islands, so I’ve taken a lot of people out either via sailboat or charter boat to experience the dolphin pods and hopefully catch a couple whale breaches. I usually take friends to see Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign. Venice beach is always a fun one for people to experience for the first time. The PCH along malibu is a favorite. A few years ago I took 6/7 friends skydiving. That same trip we got tattoos and went straight to the dirt track to watch races by the beach. There are so many beautiful places and fun things to do in So Cal. I’m never bored. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate a shoutout to the Perkins/Brown Family. I had a pretty rough start and found myself sleeping in parking lots as a teenager to escape an abusive situation. And old friend from my school got word, and invited me to live with her. Her parents welcomed me with open arms, not knowing anything about me. They treated me like their own daughter and the short time I stayed with them massively sped up my emotional healing process and allowed me the safe space I needed to decide what my next move was — which ended up being a one way ticket to Southern California to pursue art. They still cheer me on constantly and have always supported my dreams. I’m so grateful for the kindness they showed me. I’d also like to thank my Mother who is a talented Painter herself and put a paintbrush and camera in my hand at a young age. My home was filled with paintings and she was always teaching local Boy Scouts or school groups about the importance of art. Every field and cow and brick wall held a beauty of it’s own and she was always the person to point it out and train me to see it.