James Watkins – Featured IPA member
Jim spent nearly 35 years in the Chicago banking industry before following his passion for photography full-time in California’s San Francisco Bay Area. He started out in the mid – 1990s creating and selling travel-oriented fine arts images from the U.S. and Europe; later, he expanded into local landscapes, cityscapes and architecture. Beginning in 2000, Jim developed a keen interest in street photography through his participation in Chicago’s CITY 2000 millennium project and later as a member in the Chicago Alliance of African-American Photographers. It is in street photography where Jim derives his greatest satisfaction as a photographer. The pure rush experienced documenting that unique moment in time that has never happened before and will never happen again drives his passion for the streets. Cartier – Bresson’s “decisive moment” and Robert Frank’s sober portrayal of everyday America had a profound impact on him early on; later, he came to appreciate the work of the enigmatic Vivian Maier and William Eggleston’s embrace of color. These and other influences help to shape his perspective towards street photography today.
In 2012, Jim and his wife Tricia left their beloved Chicago and his banking career behind for the more reasonable climes of California’s Silicon Valley. This new chapter in his life has afforded Jim the ability to fully develop all of his photography interests. Official travel publications in Illinois and California have featured his work. In 2014, he was chosen to photograph the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum for the cover and lead article in the 2015 Illinois State Travel Guide. In 2015, Jim self-published a book on street photography entitled “On the Streets of The City: A Photographic Exploration of San Francisco”. He is currently co-hosting a podcast called Street PX, featuring interviews with street photographers and related guests from all over the world.