Writer, Photographer, & Mother.
Julie Pointer Adams is a writer and lifestyle photographer based in Carpinteria, California where she lives with her husband and their two sons. She has written and photographed two books: Wabi-Sabi Welcome and Al Fresco.
What does everyday beauty mean to you and how does a relationship with everyday beauty enhance a lifetime?
I often use the term “everyday beauty” because to me, that phrase captures the essence of what we have all around us, accessible at any moment if we open our eyes to it. It’s not fussy or pretentious or aspirational–it is the kind of beauty that requires no curating. It can be the way the light comes through the curtains in the morning; a bowl of perfectly ripe pears; how our child’s hair swirls just so at the nape of the neck. Noticing everyday beauty means saying yes to these little invitations throughout your day to be in awe at the world, and slowing down enough to relish in them. I believe that ongoing gratitude for the ever-present beauty around us gives us access to a feeling of contentment that is really quite counter-cultural–and ultimately better for our souls than always being in want.
The imagery you capture feels timeless and like an experience we all want to be a part of. How did you find photography & what was your path to getting to where you are now?
That’s very kind. It’s been a long and winding journey but one that I am grateful for! I’ve been an extremely visual/spatially-minded person for as long as I can remember, but I first picked up a film camera at 15, when I did a photography internship with a local artist. From there I nearly always had a camera with me, documenting life as it unfolded in front of me. It remained a hobby alongside my other art practices through college, graduate school, and the beginning of my career where I worked for a worldwide publication wearing a lot of different hats, but mostly planning experiential events. It wasn’t until I started working on my first book, Wabi-Sabi Welcome, that I decided to claim photography as more than just a hobby and shoot all the imagery myself. From there, photography has slowly become not just a casual love of mine but also a fulfilling way to earn a living.
As a mother, can you share with us your experience with staying devoted to your own personal creative work while being in tune with your family rhythms?
I’ll start by saying–it’s extremely hard! I am still in the early stages of motherhood (I have an almost-5 year old and a 15 month old) and especially when both boys were first born, it was very difficult to have any energy for anything beyond just caring for their wellbeing. However, I’ve always found that the more I tune into what feeds and fuels me creatively, the better I am at being present and patient and calm with them the rest of the time. I only just turned the corner on having both kids in childcare for part of the week, and it’s opening up all kinds of creative space inside me for dreaming and exploration. It feels like an exciting new chapter for my career, as for the past 8 years I’ve been quite busy either bringing a book or a baby to life! I’m looking forward to having more time for focused devotion to nurturing my creative self.
How do you slow down? Rest? Engage with spaciousness?
Rest has definitely become harder for me since becoming a mother, since, as we all know–there’s always something needing to be picked up or washed or taken care of. My most successful version of slowing down nearly always involves reading, writing, or being out of the house entirely (so I’m not distracted by the clutter). For me, that usually means being somewhere in nature where the feeling of spaciousness around me manages to open up some space inside me as well. My favorite way to rest is to do something where I forget about time, and that happens most often at the beach, sitting somewhere in the sun, or hiking in the foothills around where we live.
Al Fresco is such a beloved book that inspires us to seek the freedom of the outdoors. How has your relationship with nature shaped your life?
I just read this article about this incredible couple hiking all 1300 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail with their three children, all under age five, and the mom describes my feeling about being in nature perfectly– “There’s nothing to control or judge, and honestly, it feels that out here is the only place we can be truly ourselves: unhinged, real, and simply human.” It’s this feeling that I always return to: the sensation that nature allows us to be our truest selves, away from our possessions, our careers; away from the things that our culture tells us give us value. The freedom and fullness of nature tells me that I am enough, just as I am, and that’s why I return to the welcome embrace of the outdoors, again and again and again. Nature always puts me in my place, in the best way possible.
You shared something about experimenting with optimism in your life at this moment. How do you engage with optimism and what is your theory on the outcome?
I’ve always been a fairly optimistic person (as a dreamer, sometimes overly so!) but a season of feeling a sense of scarcity (whether valid or not) can quickly turn that around. I’m working on reclaiming my optimistic outlook on life and asserting for myself that success comes in many forms–many of which are not recognized or valued by the world at large. I think creating your own parameters around what you consider a rich, meaningful life can be a form of optimism in and of itself, because rather than just subscribing to “positive thinking,” you’re taking the reins on what happiness looks like for you. I’ve found that even in the midst of hard times, little gifts are waiting around every corner if you’re open to them. That’s the kind of optimism I’m interested in.
To wrap this up, I’d love to ask you what song you have on repeat lately or what song is making you feel some type of way.
Ever since Feist’s new album came out earlier this year, I’ve been listening to “Calling all the Gods” on repeat. It’s the kind of song for playing loudly while driving down the freeway alone with the windows open, breeze blowing through your hair.