Portrait of an artist
RAF MILDENHALL — James O’Rear has never worn the Air Force uniform, but a steady stream of overseas relocations has provided him with a lifetime’s worth of work experience.
The professional photographer has parlayed the role of supporting military spouse into a catalog of photos that range from the Alaskan tundra to secluded Portuguese islands.
Now he’s turning his sights to the rich English countryside and urbanscapes as he works on a photography book.
“We’ve been to some far-off places,” O’Rear said in reference to prior deployments to Alaska and the Azores before arriving in England. “But we always make the best of it. And I’ve been blessed with amazing places to work as a photographer.”
O’Rear is now working to convert his rural Norfolk homestead into an international photography clearinghouse. Along with his book, projects on tap include calendars and note cards that draw on his wealth of photos from around the world and across the Air Force.
He’s teamed up with a host of Internet-based companies that specialize in photographic distribution and self-publishing with the hopes of turning his passion into profits.
“Because we are out in the middle of nowhere, you really have to work to expose yourself,” he said. “Fortunately, with the way the Internet and business work today, I am able to do much of my work from anywhere, including our 300-year-old country home.”
While his wife, Maj. Jill O’Rear, serves as a nurse at the 48th Medical Group, he’s at home caring for the family’s young children and designing a photo book he hopes will provoke “visual instigation.”
“My goal is for my photos to bring up stories that don’t get told anymore,” he said. “I want someone to look at that picture of Trafalgar Square and say, ‘Hey, I remember when my grandfather was there.’”
The 40-year-old has been raised on photos and the Air Force. He was born on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona while his father served as a reconnaissance photographer. His father also worked for many years as a portrait photographer, and it was in his father’s studio that O’Rear learned his early lessons about photography.
“The travel, the Air Force and the photos, it’s all in my blood,” he said. “These passions were instilled at a very young age.”
He has volunteered with an Air Force public affairs office and continues to hone his craft shooting photos across the United Kingdom.
“It’s very exciting for me to be here and have these opportunities to shoot photos all over England and work on starting my own business,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot easier when it’s something you love.”
A collection of O’Rear’s work, as well as more information about his business, is available at www.jamesorear.com.