James Oliver Mitchell • 1933-2021

For Jim, photography was very personal. He took his first photograph at 10 years old. His career spanned seven decades capturing moments from the 1950's Beat Era & 1960's Counter Culture, through the 80s & 90s. In 1973 he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His photos have been shown in museums and galleries throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Jim taught Photography at several colleges including the S.F. Art Institute, Stanford University, S.F. State and Chabot College. Jim also enjoyed 16 years working at Adolph Gasser, Inc., where he made life-long friends.

Aperture.org: A Long Overdue Look at James O. Mitchell's Expressive and Evocative Portraits


Jim's Final Gallery Exhibition: SHOH Gallery, Berkeley, CA.

Street Photography

James O. Mitchell began photographing the streets of New York soon after he was discharged from the military in 1957. 

He continued that work years later when he spent over twenty years capturing images of San Francisco during lunch breaks from his day job at Adolph Gasser. He shot thousands of rolls of 35mm film for this long-term project entitled Lunch. It represents his largest single body of work. James O. Mitchell left behind more than 500 rolls of undeveloped film, contents unknown.

Diane di Prima

James O. Mitchell and poet Diane di Prima were lifelong friends who frequently corresponded with each other by mail. He photographed her many times during her life.

Delphine Sims on James Oliver Mitchell's portrait of Diane di Prima: 

Jack Kerouac

In 1963 James O. Mitchell spent a day photographing Jack Kerouac, Phillip Whalen and Bill Morris in San Francisco, CA.

Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Mark Green papers:

© Estate of James O. Mitchell. All rights reserved
Using Format