Jenavieve Belair‘s work makes me nostalgic for my every day life – her creative eye seamlessly encompasses the southern California lifestyle that I have known since I was a young girl. It is as if Belair was with me for the two years I lived in a beach town, hanging out in the local skate shop, drinking behind the counter with friends while we waited for the the store to close and the sun to set. This sort of coastline lifestyle is romantically mundane. Rinse, wash, repeat – it never gets old and is best preserved in 35 millimeter film. However, she isn’t a photographer tethered to one aesthetic. She photographed my Babes and Books column for Live FAST Issue 1 and is known for her fairytale-esque wedding photography. Futhermore, she is incredibly down to earth. Having her photograph you is a day of coffee and storytelling. I suppose her work consistently looks like a good time because, well, she is a good time herself. Find out for yourself below…
LF: Hi Jenavieve! Who are you, where do you currently reside, and what did you do today?
JB: My name is Jenavieve, I am a 25-year-old lifestyle and wedding photographer! I live in Southern California. Today I woke up, had coffee and took my dog on a little hike. Since then, I’ve been editing in my office while listening to Fleetwood Mac on vinyl.
LF: Your creative eye is equal parts California cool and shamelessly feminine, despite your midwest upbringing. Can you share what your journey to California was like?
JB: I was born in California and we moved to Minnesota when I was 5. I was always in love with the beach culture, the girls, the skateboards, the sunsets. There was something that drew me to it even from a young age. I yearned to move back and when I turned 18, I did. Once I got under the California sun, my photography career began.
LF: When was the first time you picked up a camera? What were you initially drawn to shooting?
JB: I was always in love with idea of capturing moments. I brought disposable cameras to the playground when I was in elementary school and would dress up my barbies and take pictures of them. My dad gave me his film camera when I turned 13 and I photographed everything possible. I brought it on the school bus and to the local Dairy Queen. I started dressing up my friends in outfits and running around the neighborhood shooting 35mm film of them. I actually still shoot with that camera to this day!
LF: You’re gaining steam as a wedding photographer. What is your favorite aspect of shooting weddings?
JB: I never thought I would be a wedding photographer but I’ve found this unexplainable love for it. There is something about capturing the magic between these two people that is so rewarding. I still photograph weddings with my candid style that I put into my lifestyle work, but it becomes magic when I add romance into the mix.
LF: What is the biggest obstacle you have encountered when shooting a wedding?
JB: I think the biggest obstacle is light when shooting anything – since I shoot all natural I am always chasing the light. I try and keep my flash off the camera for as long as possible but sometimes ceremonies are late we loose light. Other than that, I don’t find many obstacles in it. Of course there are desired moments to be captured and your job is to ensure that, but we are only human and we do our best to not skip a beat and get every detail. There is a lot of pressure in photographing a wedding, but you can’t let it get to you.
LF: What is the last adventure you went on?
JB: I try and find little adventures in my work work so that I stay sane. My dog and I often find local hikes or coffee shops, however sometimes just driving to remote places or new towns with new music does the job. The last big trip I went on though was up in Mendicino County in Northern California. I had a wedding up there and I brought my dad with me – he’s my best friend. After the wedding, we went on a 5 day road trip down the coast.
LF: What is your definition of love?
JB: Love is everything to me. It’s what I was raised on, it’s present in everything I do and every decision I make. I think that definition of life is love. More so I think it is to feel so deeply about someone or something that you would do anything for it. I have so much love in my heart and I pour it out in every part of my life – my family, my work, my friends, my dog. Love is everything to me.
LF: Any upcoming summer travel plans?
JB: Road trips and camping and more road trips and camping! I have a few campaigns in different areas of California and I always try to turn those far away jobs into a road trip or some form of an adventure. My sister and I are buying tickets to Nashville for September!
LF: Describe the last dream you had.
JB: I always have the craziest dreams, I swear they never make sense. The last dream I had the ocean was green and I owned a sailboat. I mean, not the worst situation to be in, sounds kinda awesome to me.
LF: How fast do you live?
JB: Man, I feel like my days blur into one. From one job to another, to emails and phone calls. Days go by so fast and I try my hardest to preserve moments and make things last. That’s where being a photographer comes in handy – I never want to forget these precious moments in our fast-paced lives.