As many modern friendships begin, I met Jaymie on Instagram. We commented and emailed, then we spoke on the phone. Finally, we ended up at a restaurant in Culver City, sharing ideas about community over fancy burgers and beer.
Jaymie is a talented photographer and creator of MugLifeProject.com, exploring the power of community from the road and how it can be created with something as simple as a mug.
Next weekend, Jaymie and I will be hosting a weekend camping trip in the Alabama Hills, a collaboration between two adventurous souls with the common goal of bringing people together in the outdoors (preferably around a campfire with s’mores).
Check out Jaymie’s interview below, then head over to MugLifeProject.com to get inspired by community leaders from all walks of life. Better yet, join us next weekend March 13-15 for the Alabama Hills Weekend Trip, and hear about it from Jaymie herself!
Tell us a little about yourself!
It’s funny because I ask people this question all the time when I interview them for Mug Life and I’m having the hardest time answering it myself!
Hi, my name is Jaymie Shearer and I grew up in the SF Bay Area although I would call the Central Coast my “home”—specifically San Luis Obispo. I prefer bourbon over beer, dogs over cats, driving through the desert than the countryside, listening to top 40 radio over the album of the year, and tacos over most any other food.
I am an artist and love communicating through photography and asking other people questions. I’m a littler sister and best friend. My life has been in constant change over the past six months and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
What is Mug Life Project? What inspired you to explore the power of community?
Mug Life Project is a photo/interview series that focuses on people and their favorite mugs and using that vessel as a way to explore the topic of community in homes around the West. I was inspired to talk to people about community because 1) I saw how important it was in my life and 2) how much that term was becoming just another buzz word online. The more I saw community being attached to things like social media and other online platforms, I wanted to delve into what people really meant when they talked about “community” and I wanted to do this through meeting people face to face. The mug was a way to step into each conversation via the same approach and thus level the playing field—it didn’t matter how many followers you had or how many friends you had. If people acknowledge you as someone who is active in your community, then I wanted to talk to you. All of these interviews live on muglifeproject.com and as the travel portion of the project comes to an end, I see how much more growth Mug Life has ahead. I’m excited to share what I’ve been learning through this interview series and to see what direction ML takes next!
Can you describe your favorite mug, perhaps the one that started it all?
There wasn’t a single mug that started it all but rather a collection of mugs—I somehow amassed quite the collection through the years and once they filled my dining room cabinets, I realized how committed to mugs I was. They are a collection of small, earth toned vessels along with medium sized slightly imperfect mugs. I think my favorite mugs are ones that remind me of something I hold dear, usually something to do with nature—for the longest time I used the same brown, small mug with a forest green rim. I’ve given that one to a new home but it sticks out in my mind when I think about the first mugs that started my large collection. My current favorite mug is a classic style diner mug with a beautiful illustration of Yellowstone National Park on it. It was a gift from a friend of friends and I cherish it so much.
If you could interview anyone in the world for Mug Life Project, living or not, who would it be?
Bob Goff. Bob Goff. Bob Goff. or Brené Brown. They are both people who have massively influenced my view on the world and how important community is. Bob Goff wrote a book called Love Does that is full of stories about living life well by following whimsy and simply loving others. I have a feeling our interview would involve a quirky mug, long boarding through San Diego, and maybe taking a trip to Disney Land… or Uganda. Just thinking about interviewing Bob Goff makes my heart beat a little faster and a part of me is wondering why I haven’t tried to pursue this yet… or Brené Brown, she is such a boss and everything she has done in researching Shame and Vulnerability has pushed me to be a better friend, sister, daughter, employee, student, human, etc. Sitting with her and learning about how she views community would be huge.
As a lifestyle photographer, what motivates you to document your experience in nature?
Well, I would say I am first and foremost drawn to photograph whatever environment I’m in. I started to pursue lifestyle photography more and more because that was what I was surrounded by and I loved the challenge of documenting the beauty in the everyday—be it in an urban environment or natural one. That being said, I love being in nature. It’s the setting I feel the most myself in. It’s only natural for me to want to snap photos while being outside because I get to share and hopefully inspire others to go see these places with their own eyes. But to more directly answer your question, light and contrast are huge motivators for photographing in any scenario.
What role does the outdoors play in your own community?
The outdoors has been a space for people in my community to take a step away and reassess things—to gain new perspective, to clear their heads, and quite down their lives. The outdoors is extremely important for me and my relationship with God and with helping connect with others.
You’ve spent the past few months solo-roadtripping across the Western United States. Do you have any advice for other women who want to adventure solo?
People are more likely to want to help you than harm you—a large process I’ve had to work through is to find the balance between being guarded yet open.
Never let fear of “what if” stop you from going out, camping on your own, talking to a stranger, or going on that hike.
Yes, there are so many things you need to be careful about but if you let the fear of “what if I come across a bear” or “what if that person wants to hurt me” stop you from stepping out of your comfort zone, then you’ll miss out on so much in life. I would have never gotten out of my car at the Grand Teton National Park and I would have never befriended John, Dustin, Kayla and Emily last time I camped in Big Sur.
The perfect s’more:
Honestly, I’m a happy camper with your classic s’more—graham crackers, melted chocolate and toasted mallow.
Where to next?
This next weekend I’ll be heading to one of my favorite places in California, the Alabama Hills! I visited this place years ago during a geology field trip and have been back a few times since. It is in the hauntingly beautiful high desert on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas. I’m so excited to share this place with anyone who wants to join on this trip that we have been putting together. It will be so nice to spend time with new friends in a place I love so much. (Click here to register.)
Photos © 2015 Jaymie Shearer