Olivia Bee is a photographer and director working with both 35mm Olympus cameras, (analog), and a Canon 5D III. (digital) But that’s not the curious thing about Olivia Bee. It’s the fact that she was born in 1994, and was doing assignments before her 18th birthday! She is known for her dreamy, evocative portraits and even landscapes that seem to pour out of her like wine from a vessel, with little forethought. She even has a book released already,…. “Olivia Bee: Kids in Love”. She was first recognized with the series “Enveloped in a Dream”. That seems a lifetime ago. When she was a teenager.
A Visual Diary
I guess her first foray was suppose to just be a visual diary of girls, boys and adolescence. After all, she was an adolescent herself at the time. So who would know the angst, partying and risk taking of youth better than her? Her images, the power of Flickr and the currency of honesty in imaging have propelled this talented artist at the speed of light to dizzying heights only possible in a 21st century world.
On the other hand, thinking of her as a typical Pre-Millenial would be a mistake. She’s originally from Portland, Oregon, and has been taking pictures since she was 11. She was already pretty financially independent and living in Brooklyn by the age of 18. She already had a cult following by 15,…the same age she turned professional. Not that there weren’t hurdles. Most people didn’t take her seriously,…but then they would see her work. It spoke for itself.
The Professional Olivia Bee
Not that every job went smoothly. But when stylists and art directors are telling you, “I advise you iron that skirt, first”, she became a quick learner, and a consummate professional in no time. She loves Nan Goldin, (although her work is almost the polar opposite of Nan Goldin’s “world of seediness”), and feels there is a sensual quality to film. Which is why most of her personal work is done with an Olympus OM-1 or OM-10. In fact, one of her first jobs almost didn’t happen. She was still in school in Portland, when an ad agency for Converse emailed her from Flickr. But she thought it was just spam. She finally answered, took off from school, and did the shoot!
But you won’t find any tortured, bratty youth here. No drug paraphernalia, no counterculture whining. Just a down to earth, unpretentious young woman. She has since shot for Nike, Subaru, Levis and Hermès,…and many more. Although through all that, she’s no pushover, either. To say she’s an overachiever is probably an understatement. And if you’re a model who’s going to give her flak or be disrespectful because of her youth,….think again.
And 50 Year Old Men…
While she is aware that she’s competing in a world of 40 and 50 year old men, that never seemed to bother her. She’s pretty confident if given a job to do, she can do it. She feels good about her work, and knows the work can stand on its own,…youth be damned. She has used her youth to her advantage, and taken the advertising world by storm in a very short time. Olivia Bee has been exhibited all over the world and she has an ongoing series in Le Monde. And to think,…it all started with a lil’ ol’ Flickr account. Check out her website and book below. Find Olympus OM-1 Find Olympus OM-10 Find Canon 5D III