We had the good fortune of connecting with James VanCleaf and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi James, what principle do you value most?
Leaving people better than I found them. I always want to make sure anybody I do business with leaves our interactions feeling like they invested in themselves, their family, or their brand. Both of my businesses revolve around helping people feel better. Nobody is having an easy time out here so we all deserve relief and should work on reducing the collective unnecessary suffering of the world.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I always thought my creative path to success would be through music- I just didn’t know it would take the form of sharing the gift of music with autistic children and teaching kids how not just to play music, but how to play *with* music. I also never expected to start a photography business either since I had always considered myself to be a musician first, foremost, and exclusively.

As far as the music half of my career goes, it has been highly challenging. My teen years up until maybe 20-21 years old were spent viewing guitar and bass as means to an end- as ways to show skill, prove myself, document my dedication. I began to understand playing my instruments as a means of meditation as I grew spiritually and a lot of my anxiety and frustration around playing music began to fall away. So many kids take piano lessons and hate it because they were taught (or learned somehow) that music was a product or a means to an end. They wind up hating it and quitting. I’m here to show them how to play with music and use it as a therapy, meditation, and means of therapeutic catharsis.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well I live in Delaware now, but I’d recommend anybody check out the small towns in the San Bernardino mountains like Crestline if you’re ready to feel like you’re in a dream.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to shout out Sport Social in Las Vegas, NV. They gave me and many others a chance at building a successful life because they saw past my weak resume and they saw my drive and who I was as a person first and foremost. It’s not often employers are willing to give chances to people like who I used to be in my early 20s and because of that- I’m now on a much better path.

Website: JVCPhoto.com

Instagram: Jamesvancleafphoto for photo & Jamesvancleaf for music

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-vancleaf-76173080/

Facebook: facebook.com/jamesvancleafphoto

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.