An Interview with Photo Stylist Jennifer Oatsvall

An Interview with Photo Stylist Jennifer Oatsvall


You know those jobs you learn about late in life and wish you had learned about sooner? The ones where you think, man, I wish I had known you could get paid to [fill in the blank] activity? Well, if you’ve ever wished you could get paid to shop at antique malls and thrift stores and style gorgeous national magazine spreads, you’re going to love this interview. Meet today’s Bitch, Jennifer Oatsvall!


What do you do and what is the name of your business?

I am a photo stylist, specifically a prop stylist, but few people know what that is, so I go with the former. I locate and pull together decor for photoshoots and then create the scene. It’s mini set design. My focus is largely tabletop, so there's lots of dining and kitchen ware in my life, which I love. Occasionally I will do some food or event styling, but propping definitely holds my heart. Online I am {feather + oak}Tennessee, but that is simply window dressing. I wanted to use something that conjures a feeling of beauty and escape when read. My personal surname sounds more like a knock off breakfast cereal than pretty pictures.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

The same lesson I re-learn over and over again: I know more than I think I do. Impostor syndrome is rough but learning incredible people like Michelle Obama and Meryl Streep also feel it, helps. It circles back to "feel the fear and do it anyway".

What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to what you do?

Last year I landed my first national account gig. It was a big moment both due to the scale of the job (two videos were shot that day) but also because my dad had just died unexpectedly. There was a big part of me that wanted to say no and the other part of me screaming yes. So I ran with it and a couple weeks later was standing on a set on my birthday working alongside an incredible team of people. It was the best day. It was the day I knew how much I loved the work because I could do it even though my heart was breaking. The work was a respite. I was so excited and so sad that my dad didn't live long enough to see me reach that level.


Do you have a morning or nighttime ritual?

My morning ritual is essentially me drinking a gallon of coffee while catching up on news or digging for inspiration online with my cat, Luna Pearl, perched on my lap. My evening ritual is my nighttime skin care routine. I enjoy taking those few minutes to intentionally be in the moment and care for my skin.

What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires you?

Getting up and walking away from whatever it is I'm working on. I think focusing on something else for a bit helps unlock creativity. I'll also call friends and bounce ideas off of them. I appreciate how present and supportive women are with one another when we need advice.

What does self care look like in your life?

My number one is gardening. I enjoy raising butterflies every summer: eastern black swallowtails, monarchs, and gulf fritillary. I can be outside for hours - no phone, no people - just hearing the birds sing while planting, digging, mulching, and caring for my flowers and butterflies. It's my warm weather ritual and the only thing I do that truly quiets my mind. I also need face time with girlfriends. Phone time doesn't cut it for me. Not liking talking on the phone might play a part, but I've found there's no substitute for face to face communication over dinner or coffee. I always come away happier and feeling refreshed after spending an evening with favorite people. We really know how to laugh and that is so good for the soul. I also love a simple evening in front of the tv with my husband laughing at Parks & Rec, which we watch repeatedly to the point that I will not tell you how much we've watched it. See also: Schitt’s Creek.


How do you feel about social media?

I enjoy Instagram and Pinterest in the way I enjoy magazines. They're a visual medium and wonderfully at my fingertips when I have need of them. Twitter is my favorite. Nashville Twitter is so great. I've met so many wonderful people because of it, many of whom are now dear friends.  

Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?

All of them. Really. Every person contributes something - some more than others. But if I had to distill it to one person that would be (fellow Bitch) Tabitha Tune. She doesn't know it, but she set me on a path years ago by introducing me to a wedding planner friend and, if not for that introduction, I might never have discovered how much I love photo styling work, which led me to prop styling.

Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite podcast and snack?

Mirror Mirror and nachos!

P.S. Meet my last Bitch, Katie Vance!

P.P.S. See a full list of all my Bitches here!

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