Spirit Photography was founded by Brian Carver (guitar) and Volar Records owner Craig Oliver (guitar, vocals). Born in Guam, Oliver scuttled with his family to Colorado, then Arizona, by the time he was four. He spent most of his teens in Japan, where he got into PJ Harvey, skateboarding, and writing. In 1998 he landed in San Diego:
“Going to high school on a military base, I’d never been to a show in the States. I’d given up on playing music. The idea was to attend community college before going to film school in L.A. Then life happened. I was excited about coming here, mostly because I was obsessed with Drive Like Jehu and Clikatat Ikatowi. I came at a weird time, just after most of the Gravity Records and Cargo/Casbah scenes had died. Thankfully, the Ché Café was still going strong, and I was fortunate to see a lot of great bands — like Camera Obscura, one of my favorites, close to 15 times. When I was 18, they opened for Tristeza and Blonde Redhead — a totally perfect show. The Sess were always amazing, almost blindingly so, just a total force of nature. They had the same live approach as Camera Obscura — a pure, exhausting blast of energy from start to stop. And Hot Snakes were really great.”
Oliver ended up in South Park, which he calls “one of the last great communities in the city...its own little bubble of sanctity,” and playing guitar with Spirit Photography and Christmas Island.
As of 2013, Brian Carver was also playing with Teenage Burritos, alongside Kevin Gist (Plateaus), Kirsten Gundel, and Lucy Wehrly. They were nominated Best New Artist at the 2013 San Diego Music Awards, and their full-length Something To Cry About was released in early 2018.