Olivia Rae James at Terrain


We're longtime fans of Charleston photographer Olivia Rae James, especially when it comes to her gorgeous shots of landscapes and gardens. So, we were thrilled when she kindly agreed to share a beautiful family tradition, just in time for Mother's Day. A Nashville native, she returns to the city each spring for a garden brunch with the women in her family-- her Mom, sister, and grandmother. Known in the family as Nan Nan, Olivia's grandmother is her muse thanks to the style and sparkling personality that show so clearly in the photos above. For this year's brunch, Olivia set the table with picks from our spring tabletop collection, creating a rosy-hued color story to match her Mom's pink brick garden wall. Take a peek, above, and read on for some favorite moments from this three-generation gathering. Thanks, Olivia!

terrain: We’d love to know a bit more about your Mother’s Day brunch tradition. Who is typically there, what does everyone bring, and how did it begin?

Olivia: Traditions in my family are pretty loosey goosey -- the constants are good food, wine, family, and sometimes friends -- everything else always varies. And no matter how much everyone offers, my mom usually does the bulk of the cooking.

terrain: Was there a favorite moment from this year’s get-together? 

Olivia: The prep ended up being really fun this year. Everyone contributed something, so it felt like a real team effort. We even deemed my dad our server and sommelier for all the ladies, which he loved.

terrain: What was everyone’s favorite dish this year? 

Olivia: Nan Nan kept talking about the ricotta toast with olive oil and honey-- apparently she didn't have high hopes for it, but it ended up being the surprise favorite!

terrain: Your mother and grandmother have such great style. What would you say you’ve learned from them when it comes to hosting family and friends for a meal?

Olivia: (I hope) I take after my mom and grandma in my desire to keep get-togethers feeling casual and lighthearted. You can have the fanciest food or the easiest food, but what matters is the atmosphere. You want everyone to feel comfortable and have fun, first and foremost! They always get the bulk of the cooking and prep done before everyone arrives, so there's time to enjoy and socialize with everyone instead of being stuck in the kitchen.

This week, we invited our friend and photographer Olivia Rae James from Charleston, SC to visit Styer’s and capture the terrain experience through her lens. We love seeing our nursery in a new light, and her visit has us feeling ready for the transition into fall. Enjoy some of the beautiful images Olivia took above, and read on to learn more about her artistic process and first trip to terrain

terrain: Can you tell us a bit about your background and what sparked your interest in photography?

Olivia: I was as interested in photography as any other kid, playing with Polaroids and disposables, but it wasn't until high school or college that I became obsessed with documentation. I didn't want anything to ever be forgotten (still don't), though I've definitely reached a point where I embrace putting my camera away and focusing on the present. I do think having a camera in my hand at all times for so many years, attempting to capture everything, was a great trial-and-error education. I never formally studied photography aside from a few workshops (I have a degree in English from the College of Charleston), but I realized within a year of graduating that photography was what I wanted to set my sights on. 

terrain: What inspires you the most? What are your favorite kinds of photographs to take? 

Olivia: Traveling is my preferred way to recharge and get inspired. Even if it means leaving my camera in the hotel for a day or two. I love to capture real, quiet moments. My favorite photographs often include morning light, evening light, flowers, the sea, people, new places, and pretty food.

terrain: What did you enjoy most about shooting at terrain?

Olivia: Oh, so many things! terrain is a hub for the things I love most. The plants and flowers, the home goods, the sweetest garden shed, the light streaming through greenhouse windows, the amazing cafe in the greenhouse -- it's just perfect!

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  • ErinN said...

    This sounds wonderful! Boy, any way we could get that ricotta toast recipe in time for Mothers Day? I would love to introduce that this year at outer gathering.

  • OliviaRaeJames said...

    Hi Erin! It's actually really simple -- we just toasted some rosemary sourdough bread and topped it with ricotta, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. So easy and delicious! x

  • thefolia said...

    Viva la quiet moment! Happy Nesting.

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