I Wanna Be You: James Douglas


I’m a little overly-excited to bring you this next installment in the “I Wanna Be You” series. Why? Because I had the chance to sit down with a really groovy photographer who decided — with his own free will — to leave New York City and move to Cleveland.

Meet James Douglas of The James Douglas Studio:


Since arriving in the 216 about a year and a half ago, he’s wasted little time establishing himself as one of the city’s premier photographers. Besides shooting with models from Taxi Talent Management, James and his small-but-mighty crew (Cleveland-native Julia Toke, (AKA “Jules”), serves as his Senior Producer and his own wifey, Erica, fills the role of manager) are already in the production phase for a series of short films entitled “The Blue Laws,” a satirical look at the absurdity of certain state ordinances. For this project, James enlisted the help of his buddies over at “Purple Films,” a–you guessed it–Cleveland-based independent video production company. Oh yeah, and he’s currently in the process of looking for land on which to build a house and start a family. Sounds like alot, huh? Lucky for me, he and Jules made some time for me to come and snoop around …



Age: 29

Degree: BFA in Digital Communications, University of Delaware

Current Gig:  founder/owner of The James Douglas Studio

Why Cleveland?: (James was born and raised in the greater D.C. area, while Erica grew up in North Olmsted.) “It’s always good to have family nearby. We knew we wanted to move eventually; I wasn’t going to raise a family in New York City.” One thing James credits CLE for is its unexpected art scene. After visiting a few times, it became apparent that the city had just what he was looking for, without the price tag of Manhattan. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘Oh this is the Gordon Square Arts District… wait, WHAT!?’ It definitely opened my eyes a little bit.”  The couple finally settled about a year and a half ago in Fairview Park, an easy decision considering “…the Fathead’s Brewery is right there!” And for James, as I soon discovered, libations are no trivial matter. When asked if he has yet adopted a personal mantra of some sort, his answer came without a moment of  hesitation: “Blood, Sweat and Beers.” A true Clevelander at heart, you guys.

Favorite Places to Eat: “Do I have to name just one?” was his response. So we crafted a handy chart based on one’s predicament and/or location at time of said hunger.



So how does James think our lovely little Mistake on the Lake compares to the Big Apple? “It won’t chew you up and spit you out in quite the same way as Manhattan. It’s a small(er) place where you can get a ton of things done, but (still) with a big-city vibe.” And if you’re looking to “vibe” with The James Douglas Studio anytime soon, don’t be a stranger. As I so quickly learned from my first encounter, he’s always open to working with new people and learning from those in his craft. Take, for example, his view on collaboration: “Come on over for beers and let’s talk shop.”  Something tells me he is going to be just fine making new friends in Cleveland.



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